Document details

Development of 3D in vitro models for prediction of hepatic metabolism and toxicity

Author(s): Rebelo, Sofia Raquel Paulo

Date: 2015

Persistent ID:

Origin: Repositório Institucional da UNL

Subject(s): 3D; Hepatic; Microencapsulation; Bioreactor; Co-culture; HepaRG


The development of human cell models that recapitulate hepatic functionality allows the study of metabolic pathways involved in toxicity and disease. The increased biological relevance, cost-effectiveness and high-throughput of cell models can contribute to increase the efficiency of drug development in the pharmaceutical industry. Recapitulation of liver functionality in vitro requires the development of advanced culture strategies to mimic in vivo complexity, such as 3D culture, co-cultures or biomaterials. However, complex 3D models are typically associated with poor robustness, limited scalability and compatibility with screening methods. In this work, several strategies were used to develop highly functional and reproducible spheroid-based in vitro models of human hepatocytes and HepaRG cells using stirred culture systems. In chapter 2, the isolation of human hepatocytes from resected liver tissue was implemented and a liver tissue perfusion method was optimized towards the improvement of hepatocyte isolation and aggregation efficiency, resulting in an isolation protocol compatible with 3D culture. In chapter 3, human hepatocytes were co-cultivated with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and the phenotype of both cell types was characterized, showing that MSC acquire a supportive stromal function and hepatocytes retain differentiated hepatic functions, stability of drug metabolism enzymes and higher viability in co-cultures. In chapter 4, a 3D alginate microencapsulation strategy for the differentiation of HepaRG cells was evaluated and compared with the standard 2D DMSO-dependent differentiation, yielding higher differentiation efficiency, comparable levels of drug metabolism activity and significantly improved biosynthetic activity. The work developed in this thesis provides novel strategies for 3D culture of human hepatic cell models, which are reproducible, scalable and compatible with screening platforms. The phenotypic and functional characterization of the in vitro systems performed contributes to the state of the art of human hepatic cell models and can be applied to the improvement of pre-clinical drug development efficiency of the process, model disease and ultimately, development of cell-based therapeutic strategies for liver failure.

Document Type Doctoral thesis
Language English
Advisor(s) Alves, Paula; Brito, Catarina
Contributor(s) Rebelo, Sofia Raquel Paulo
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