Development of isogenic human embryonic stem cell-derived 3D neuro-immune cell culture models: pre-clinical evaluation of interleukin 13 for microglia and macrophage immunomodulation under stroke-like pathology. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Development of three-dimensional (3D) in vitro cell culture models for human neuro-immunological research is currently a hot topic in medical cell biology research. Although multiple protocols have been described for generating human 3D brain organoids starting from pluripotent stem cells, current models display several limitations, including the lack of extracellular matrix (ECM), the absence of multiple types of immune cells and a functional blood-brain-barrier (BBB). With this project we aim to develop and optimize a new method for generating 3D neuro-immune cell culture models to study and modulate human neuro-inflammatory responses. For this, isogenic 3D cell cultures comprising human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived neurons, astrocytes and microglia will be established on decellularized mouse brain sections in order to provide growth and organizational support by original brain ECM proteins. In addition, hESC-derived astrocytes and endothelial cells will be used to create a BBB model for physical separation of hESC-derived macrophages. Further inclusion of genetic engineering strategies, to allow for real time bioluminescence imaging and (live cell) confocal microscopy, will be applied to ensure profound validation and high throughput screening applications. Once established, we will use this technology to further extend our research efforts to optimize therapeutic strategies based on interleukin (IL)13-mediated immunomodulation, following hypoxic and hypoglycemic stress (i.e. stroke-like conditions). Once validated, we believe that implementation of the proposed 3D brain organoid technology by academia and/or pharmaceutical industry will not only have great impact on the reliability of pre-clinical drug screening, and consequently on the medical and social investments associated with patient care, but also will find application in advanced human toxicology research.

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