Vascularized Liver Organoids Generated Using Induced Hepatic Tissue and Dynamic Liver-Specific Microenvironment as a Drug Testing Platform

Yoonhee Jin, Jin Kim, Jung Seung Lee, Sungjin Min, Suran Kim, Da Hee Ahn, Yun Gon Kim, Seung Woo Cho

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Induced hepatic (iHep) cells generated by direct reprogramming have been proposed as cell sources for drug screening and regenerative medicine. However, the practical use of a 3D hepatic tissue culture comprised of iHep cells for drug screening and toxicology testing has not been demonstrated. In this study, a 3D vascularized liver organoid composed of iHep cells and a decellularized liver extracellular matrix (LEM) cultured in a microfluidic system is demonstrated. iHep cells are generated by transfection with polymer nanoparticles and plasmids expressing hepatic transcription factors. The iHep cells are cocultured with endothelial cells in the 3D LEM hydrogel in a microfluidic-based cell culture device with a continuous dynamic flow of media. The resultant 3D vascularized liver organoids maintained under this physiologically relevant culture microenvironment exhibit improved hepatic functionalities, metabolic activity, biosynthetic activity, and drug responses. Finally, the feasibility of using the iHep-based 3D liver organoid as a high-throughput drug screening platform, as well as its use in a multiorgan model comprised of multiple internal organoids is confirmed. The study suggests that a combined strategy of direct reprogramming, matrix engineering, and microfluidics can be used to develop a highly functional, standardized, drug screening, and toxicological analysis platform.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801954
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 12

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants (2017R1A2B3005994, 2017M3C7A1047659, and 2018M3A9H1021382) from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), Republic of Korea. This work was also supported by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS-R026-D1). The authors thank Prof. Calvin Kuo’s laboratory at Stanford University for kindly providing HEK293T cells stably expressing murine R-spondin-1 with an N-terminal HA epitope and fused to a C-terminal IgG2a Fc fragment.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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