3D human microvessel-on-a-chip model for studying monocyte-to-endothelium adhesion under flow – application in systems toxicology

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Carine Poussin , Bart Kramer, Henriette L. Lanz, Angelique van den Heuvel, Alexandra Laurent, Thomas Olivier, Marjolein Vermeer, Dariusz Peric, Karine Baumer, Rémi Dulize, Emmanuel Guedj, Nikolai V. Ivanov, Manuel C. Peitsch, Julia Hoeng, Jos Joore
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Lifestyle and genetic factors can lead to the development of atherosclerosis and, ultimately, cardiovascular adverse events. Rodent models are commonly used to investigate mechanism(s) of atherogenesis. However, the 3R principles, aiming to limit animal testing, encourage the scientific community to develop new, physiologically relevant alternatives. Leveraging the 96-chip OrganoPlate®, a microfluidic platform, we have established a three-dimensional (3D) model of endothelial microvessels-on-a-chip under flow using primary human coronary arterial endothelial cells. As functional readout, we have set up an assay to measure the adhesion of monocytes to the lumen of perfused microvessels. For monitoring molecular changes in microvessels, we have established the staining and quantification of specific protein markers of inflammation and oxidative stress using high-content imaging as well as analyzed transcriptome changes using microarrays. To demonstrate its usefulness in systems toxicology, we used our 3D vasculature-on-a-chip model to assess the impact of the Tobacco Heating System (THS) 2.2, a candidate modified-risk tobacco product, and the 3R4F reference cigarette on the adhesion of monocytic cells to endothelial microvessels. Our results show that THS 2.2 aerosol-conditioned medium had a reduced effect on monocyte-endothelial adhesion compared with that of 3R4F smoke-con­ditioned medium. In conclusion, we have established a relevant 3D vasculature-on-a-chip model for investigating leukocyte-endothelial microvessel adhesion. A case study illustrates how the model can be used for product testing in the context of systems toxicology-based risk assessment. The current model and its potential further development options also open perspectives of applications in vascular disease research and drug discovery.

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Poussin, C., Kramer, B., Lanz, H. L., van den Heuvel, A., Laurent, A., Olivier, T., Vermeer, M., Peric, D., Baumer, K., Dulize, R., Guedj, E., Ivanov, N. V., Peitsch, M. C., Hoeng, J. and Joore, J. (2020) “3D human microvessel-on-a-chip model for studying monocyte-to-endothelium adhesion under flow – application in systems toxicology”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 37(1), pp. 47–63. doi: 10.14573/altex.1811301.

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