Direct therapeutic effect of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine on nutritional deficiency-induced enteric dysfunction in a human intestine chip

Organ Model: Intestine (Duodenum)

Application: Metabolic Disease



Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) antimalarial therapy has been suggested to potentially increase the birth weight of infants in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa, independently of malarial infection. Here, we utilized female intestinal organoid-derived cells cultured within microfluidic Organ Chips to investigate whether SP could directly impact intestinal function and thereby improve the absorption of essential fats and nutrients crucial for fetal growth.


Using a human organ-on-a-chip model, we replicated the adult female intestine with patient organoid-derived duodenal epithelial cells interfaced with human intestinal endothelial cells. Nutrient-deficient (ND) medium was perfused to simulate malnutrition, resulting in the appearance of enteric dysfunction indicators such as villus blunting, reduced mucus production, impaired nutrient absorption, and increased inflammatory cytokine secretion. SP was administered to these chips in the presence or absence of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).


Our findings revealed that SP treatment effectively reversed multiple intestinal absorptive abnormalities observed in malnourished female Intestine Chips, as validated by transcriptomic and proteomic analyses. SP also reduced the production of inflammatory cytokines and suppressed the recruitment of PBMCs in ND chips.


Our results indicate that SP could potentially increase birth weights by preventing enteric dysfunction and suppressing intestinal inflammation. This underscores the potential of SP as a targeted intervention to improve maternal absorption, subsequently contributing to healthier fetal growth. While SP treatment shows promise in addressing malabsorption issues that can influence infant birth weight, we did not model pregnancy in our chips, and thus its usefulness for treatment of malnourished pregnant women requires further investigation through clinical trials.