In Vitro Experimental Model for the Long-Term Analysis of Cellular Dynamics During Bronchial Tree Development from Lung Epithelial Cells.

Hagiwara M1, Maruta N2,3, Marumoto M2
Source: Tissue Eng
Publication Date: (2017)
Issue: 23: 323-332
Cells used in publication:
Endothelial, umbilical vein, human (HUVEC)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: vein
Epithelial, bronchial (NHBE), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: lung


Lung branching morphogenesis has been studied for decades, but the underlying developmental mechanisms are still not fully understood. Cellular movements dynamically change during the branching process, but it is difficult to observe long-term cellular dynamics by in vivo or tissue culture experiments. Therefore, developing an in vitro experimental model of bronchial tree would provide an essential tool for developmental biology, pathology, and systems biology. In this study, we succeeded in reconstructing a bronchial tree in vitro by using primary human bronchial epithelial cells. A high concentration gradient of bronchial epithelial cells was required for branching initiation, whereas homogeneously distributed endothelial cells induced the formation of successive branches. Subsequently, the branches grew in size to the order of millimeter. The developed model contains only two types of cells and it facilitates the analysis of lung branching morphogenesis. By taking advantage of our experimental model, we carried out long-term time-lapse observations, which revealed self-assembly, collective migration with leader cells, rotational motion, and spiral motion of epithelial cells in each developmental event. Mathematical simulation was also carried out to analyze the self-assembly process and it revealed simple rules that govern cellular dynamics. Our experimental model has provided many new insights into lung development and it has the potential to accelerate the study of developmental mechanisms, pattern formation, left-right asymmetry, and disease pathogenesis of the human lung