Modeling mucus physiology and pathophysiology in human organs-on-chips

Article Type: Review

Organ Models: Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Lung (Airway), Cervix, Vagina

Abstract: The surfaces of human internal organs are lined by a mucus layer that ensures symbiotic relationships with commensal microbiome while protecting against potentially injurious environmental chemicals, toxins, and pathogens, and disruption of this layer can contribute to disease development. Studying mucus biology has been challenging due to the lack of physiologically relevant human in vitro models. Here we review recent progress that has been made in the development of human organ-on-a-chip microfluidic culture models that reconstitute epithelial tissue barriers and physiologically relevant mucus layers with a focus on lung, colon, small intestine, cervix and vagina. These organ-on-a-chip models that incorporate dynamic fluid flow, air–liquid interfaces, and physiologically relevant mechanical cues can be used to study mucus composition, mechanics, and structure, as well as investigate its contributions to human health and disease with a level of biomimicry not possible in the past.