Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Technology, University of Pennsylvania / 24.06.2015

Dan Dongeun Huh, Ph.D. Wilf Family Term Chair & Assistant Professor Department of Bioengineering University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dan Dongeun Huh, Ph.D. Wilf Family Term Chair & Assistant Professor Department of Bioengineering University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The placenta is a temporary organ central to pregnancy and serves as a major interface that tightly regulates transport of various endogenous and exogenous materials between mother and fetus. The placental barrier consisting of the closely apposed trophoblast epithelium and fetal capillary endothelium is responsible for maintaining this critical physiological function, and its dysfunction leads to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Despite its importance, barrier function of the placenta has been extremely challenging to study due to a lack of surrogate models that faithfully recapitulate the key features of the placental barrier in humans. Our study aims to directly address this long-standing technical challenge by providing a microengineered in vitro system that replicates architecture, microenvironment, and physiological function of the human placenta barrier. This “placenta-on-a-chip” device consists of microfabricated upper and lower cell culture chambers separated by a thin semipermeable membrane, and the placental barrier is generated by culturing human trophoblasts and fetal endothelial cells on either side of the membrane with steady flows of culture media in both chambers. This microfluidic cell culture condition allowed the cells to form confluent monolayers on the membrane surface and to create a bi-layer tissue that resembled the placental barrier in vivo. Moreover, the microengineered barrier enabled transport of glucose from the maternal chamber to the fetal compartment at physiological rates. (more…)