Modular, pumpless body-on-a-chip platform for the co-culture of GI tract epithelium and 3D primary liver tissue

Mandy B. Esch, Hidetaka Ueno, Dawn R. Applegate, Michael L. Shuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


We have developed an expandable modular body-on-a-chip system that allows for a plug-and-play approach with several in vitro tissues. The design consists of single-organ chips that are combined with each other to yield a multi-organ body-on-a-chip system. Fluidic flow through the organ chips is driven via gravity and controlled passively via hydraulic resistances of the microfluidic channel network. Such pumpless body-on-a-chip devices are inexpensive and easy to use. We tested the device by culturing GI tract tissue and liver tissue within the device. Integrated Ag/AgCl electrodes were used to measure the resistance across the GI tract cell layer. The transepithelial resistance (TEER) reached values between 250 to 650 Ω cm2 throughout the 14 day co-culture period. These data indicate that the GI tract cells retained their viability and the GI tract layer as a whole retained its barrier function. Throughout the 14 day co-culture period we measured low amounts of aspartate aminotransferase (AST, ∼10-17.5 U L-1), indicating low rates of liver cell death. Metabolic rates of hepatocytes were comparable to those of hepatocytes in single-organ fluidic cell culture systems (albumin production ranged between 3-6 μg per day per million hepatocytes and urea production ranged between 150-200 μg per day per million hepatocytes). Induced CYP activities were higher than previously measured with microfluidic liver only systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2719-2729
Number of pages11
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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