3D Biomimetic model of the host-microbiome small intestinal ecosystem
The human gut forms a complex ecosystem where the intestinal barrier faces the resident microbiota. This microbiota is involved in maintaining gut homeostasis, occupying luminal and mucosal niches to outcompete pathogenic bacteria, providing a protective biofilm, contributing to the digestion of foods and energy metabolism, and also actively modulating immune processes. Microbe-host crosstalk is hence considered a crucial determinant of human health. However, despite its importance for immune maturation, activation and regulation, the small intestinal environment, and mainly its host-microbe cross-talk are not well understood, primarily due to difficult accessibility for reproducible sampling. Innovative technologies that accurately mimic the small intestinal environment provide a biotechnological tool to address this knowledge gap.
This multidisciplinary project aims to develop an in vitro system that combines the small intestinal microbiota with an accurate simulation of the 3D microarchitecture of the intestinal epithelium through a bioengineered multicellular model. The host interface will be simulated by a co-culture containing the most abundant cell types at small intestine (enterocyte- and goblet-like cells) and also including immune cells in a biocompatible scaffold resembling the villi structure. This model will improve the current tools for assessing host-microbiome interactions with opportunities into a broad range of applications.