Ectopic Lymphoid Follicle Formation and Human Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Responses Recapitulated in an Organ-on-a-Chip

Organ Model: Lymphoid Follicle

Application: Immunology

Abstract: Lymphoid follicles (LFs) are responsible for generation of adaptive immune responses in secondary lymphoid organs and form ectopically during chronic inflammation. A human model of ectopic LF formation will provide a tool to understand LF development and an alternative to non-human primates for preclinical evaluation of vaccines. Here, it is shown that primary human blood B- and T-lymphocytes autonomously assemble into ectopic LFs when cultured in a 3D extracellular matrix gel within one channel of a two-channel organ-on-a-chip microfluidic device. Superfusion via a parallel channel separated by a microporous membrane is required for LF formation and prevents lymphocyte autoactivation. These germinal center-like LFs contain B cells expressing Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase and exhibit plasma cell differentiation upon activation. To explore their utility for seasonal vaccine testing, autologous monocyte-derived dendritic cells are integrated into LF Chips. The human LF chips demonstrate improved antibody responses to split virion influenza vaccination compared to 2D cultures, which are enhanced by a squalene-in-water emulsion adjuvant, and this is accompanied by increases in LF size and number. When inoculated with commercial influenza vaccine, plasma cell formation and production of anti-hemagglutinin IgG are observed, as well as secretion of cytokines similar to vaccinated humans over clinically relevant timescales.