Modeling Healthy and Dysbiotic Vaginal Microenvironments in a Human Vagina-on-a-Chip

Organ Model: Vagina

Application: Microbiome

Abstract: Women’s health, and particularly diseases of the female reproductive tract (FRT), have not received the attention they deserve, even though an unhealthy reproductive system may lead to life-threatening diseases, infertility, or adverse outcomes during pregnancy. One barrier in the field is that there has been a dearth of preclinical, experimental models that faithfully mimic the physiology and pathophysiology of the FRT. Current in vitro and animal models do not fully recapitulate the hormonal changes, microaerobic conditions, and interactions with the vaginal microbiome. The advent of Organ-on-a-Chip (Organ Chip) microfluidic culture technology that can mimic tissue-tissue interfaces, vascular perfusion, interstitial fluid flows, and the physical microenvironment of a major subunit of human organs can potentially serve as a solution to this problem. Recently, a human Vagina Chip that supports co-culture of human vaginal microbial consortia with primary human vaginal epithelium that is also interfaced with vaginal stroma and experiences dynamic fluid flow has been developed. This chip replicates the physiological responses of the human vagina to healthy and dysbiotic microbiomes. A detailed protocol for creating human Vagina Chips has been described in this article.