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A new microphysiological system shows hypoxia primes human ISCs for interleukin-dependent rescue of stem cell activity

Rivera KR*, Bliton RJ*, Burclaff JR, Czerwinski MJ, Liu J, Trueblood JM, Hinesley CM, Breau KA, Joshi S, Pozdin VA, Yao M, Ziegler AL, Blikslager AT, Daniele MA, Magness ST.        *Authors contributed Equally 

BioRxiv; Feb; 2023 doi: PMID: TBD



Background & Aims: Hypoxia in the intestinal epithelium can be caused by acute ischemic events or conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) where immune cell infiltration produces ‘inflammatory hypoxia’, a chronic condition that starves the mucosa of oxygen. Epithelial regeneration after ischemia and IBD suggests intestinal stem cells (ISCs) are highly tolerant to acute and chronic hypoxia; however, the impact of acute and chronic hypoxia on human ISC (hISC) properties have not been reported. Here we present a new microphysiological system (MPS) to investigate how hypoxia affects hISCs isolated from healthy human tissues. We then test the hypothesis that some inflammation-associated interleukins protect hISCs during prolonged hypoxia. Methods: hISCs were exposed to <1.0% oxygen in the MPS for 6-, 24-, 48- & 72hrs. Viability, HIF1α response, transcriptomics, cell cycle dynamics, and hISC response to cytokines were evaluated. Results: The novel MPS enables precise, real-time control and monitoring of oxygen levels at the cell surface. Under hypoxia, hISCs remain viable until 72hrs and exhibit peak HIF1α at 24hrs. hISCs lose stem cell activity at 24hrs that recovers at 48hrs of hypoxia. Hypoxia increases the proportion of hISCs in G1 and regulates hISC capacity to respond to multiple inflammatory signals. Hypoxia induces hISCs to upregulate many interleukin receptors and hISCs demonstrate hypoxia-dependent cell cycle regulation and increased organoid forming efficiency when treated with specific interleukins Conclusions: Hypoxia primes hISCs to respond differently to interleukins than hISCs in normoxia through a transcriptional response. hISCs slow cell cycle progression and increase hISC activity when treated with hypoxia and specific interleukins. These findings have important implications for epithelial regeneration in the gut during inflammatory events.

Preservation of reserve intestinal epithelial stem cells following severe ischemic injury

Gonzalez LM, Stewart AS, Freund J, Kucera CR, Dekaney CM, Magness ST, Blikslager AT

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2019 Apr 1;316(4):G482-G494.  Epub 2019 Feb 4. PMID: 30714814



Intestinal ischemia is an abdominal emergency with a mortality rate >50%, leading to epithelial barrier loss and subsequent sepsis. Epithelial renewal and repair after injury depend on intestinal epithelial stem cells (ISC) that reside within the crypts of Lieberkühn. Two ISC populations critical to epithelial repair have been described: 1) active ISC (aISC; highly proliferative; leucine-rich-repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 positive, sex determining region Y-box 9 positive) and 2) reserve ISC [rISC; less proliferative; homeodomain only protein X (Hopx)+]. Yorkshire crossbred pigs (8-10 wk old) were subjected to 1-4 h of ischemia and 1 h of reperfusion or recovery by reversible mesenteric vascular occlusion. This study was designed to evaluate whether ISC-expressing biomarkers of aISCs or rISCs show differential resistance to ischemic injury and different contributions to the subsequent repair and regenerative responses. Our data demonstrate that, following 3-4 h ischemic injury, aISC undergo apoptosis, whereas rISC are preserved. Furthermore, these rISC are retained ex vivo in spheroids in which cell populations are enriched in the rISC biomarker Hopx. These cells appear to go on to provide a proliferative pool of cells during the recovery period. Taken together, these data indicate that Hopx+ cells are resistant to injury and are the likely source of epithelial renewal following prolonged ischemic injury. It is therefore possible that targeting reserve stem cells will lead to new therapies for patients with severe intestinal injury. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The population of reserve less-proliferative intestinal epithelial stem cells appears resistant to injury despite severe epithelial cell loss, including that of the active stem cell population, which results from prolonged mesenteric ischemia. These cells can change to an activated state and are likely indispensable to regenerative processes. Reserve stem cell targeted therapies may improve treatment and outcome of patients with ischemic disease.

A High-Throughput Organoid Microinjection Platform to Study Gastrointestinal Microbiota and Luminal Physiology

Williamson IA, Arnold JW, Samsa LA, Gaynor L, DiSalvo M, Cocchiaro JL, Carroll I, Azcarate-Peril MA, Rawls JF, Allbritton NL, Magness ST

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 May 22;6(3):301-319. eCollection 2018. PMID: 30123820



BACKGROUND & AIMS: The human gut microbiota is becoming increasingly recognized as a key factor in homeostasis and disease. The lack of physiologically relevant in vitro models to investigate host-microbe interactions is considered a substantial bottleneck for microbiota research. Organoids represent an attractive model system because they are derived from primary tissues and embody key properties of the native gut lumen; however, access to the organoid lumen for experimental perturbation is challenging. Here, we report the development and validation of a high-throughput organoid microinjection system for cargo delivery to the organoid lumen and high-content sampling. METHODS: A microinjection platform was engineered using off-the-shelf and 3-dimensional printed components. Microinjection needles were modified for vertical trajectories and reproducible injection volumes. Computer vision (CVis) and microfabricated CellRaft Arrays (Cell Microsystems, Research Triangle Park, NC) were used to increase throughput and enable high-content sampling of mock bacterial communities. Modeling preformed using the COMSOL Multiphysics platform predicted a hypoxic luminal environment that was functionally validated by transplantation of fecal-derived microbial communities and monocultures of a nonsporulating anaerobe. RESULTS: CVis identified and logged locations of organoids suitable for injection. Reproducible loads of 0.2 nL could be microinjected into the organoid lumen at approximately 90 organoids/h. CVis analyzed and confirmed retention of injected cargos in approximately 500 organoids over 18 hours and showed the requirement to normalize for organoid growth for accurate assessment of barrier function. CVis analyzed growth dynamics of a mock community of green fluorescent protein- or Discosoma sp. red fluorescent protein-expressing bacteria, which grew within the organoid lumen even in the presence of antibiotics to control media contamination. Complex microbiota communities from fecal samples survived and grew in the colonoid lumen without appreciable changes in complexity. CONCLUSIONS: High-throughput microinjection into organoids represents a next-generation in vitro approach to investigate gastrointestinal luminal physiology and the gastrointestinal microbiota.

Integrated phosphorescence-based photonic biosensor (iPOB) for monitoring oxygen levels in 3D cell culture systems

Rivera KR, Pozdin VA, Young AT, Erb PD, Wisniewski NA, Magness ST, Daniele M

Biosens Bioelectron. 2019 Jan 1;123:131-140.  Epub 2018 Jul 21. PMID: 30060990



Physiological processes, such as respiration, circulation, digestion, and many pathologies alter oxygen concentration in the blood and tissue. When designing culture systems to recapitulate the in vivo oxygen environment, it is important to integrate systems for monitoring and controlling oxygen concentration. Herein, we report the design and engineering of a system to remotely monitor and control oxygen concentration inside a device for 3D cell culture. We integrate a photonic oxygen biosensor into the 3D tissue scaffold and regulate oxygen concentration via the control of purging gas flow. The integrated phosphorescence-based oxygen biosensor employs the quenching of palladium-benzoporphyrin by molecular oxygen to transduce the local oxygen concentration in the 3D tissue scaffold. The system is validated by testing the effects of normoxic and hypoxic culture conditions on healthy and tumorigenic breast epithelial cells, MCF-10A cells and BT474 cells, respectively. Under hypoxic conditions, both cell types exhibited upregulation of downstream target genes for the hypoxia marker gene, hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1A). Lastly, by monitoring the real-time fluctuation of oxygen concentration, we illustrated the formation of hypoxic culture conditions due to limited diffusion of oxygen through 3D tissue scaffolds.

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