Simultaneous induction of vasculature and neuronal network formation on a chip reveals a dynamic interrelationship between cell types

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Abstract

Background: Neuronal networks receive and deliver information to regulate bodily functions while the vascular network provides oxygen, nutrients, and signaling molecules to tissues. Neurovascular interactions are vital for both tissue development and maintaining homeostasis in adulthood; these two network systems align and reciprocally communicate with one another. Although communication between network systems has been acknowledged, the lack of relevant in vitro models has hindered research at the mechanistic level. For example, the current used in vitro neurovascular models are typically established to be short-term (≤ 7 days) culture models, and they miss the supporting vascular mural cells. Methods: In this study, we utilized human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) -derived neurons, fluorescence tagged human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), and either human bone marrow or adipose stem/stromal cells (BMSCs or ASCs) as the mural cell types to create a novel 3D neurovascular network-on-a-chip model. Collagen 1–fibrin matrix was used to establish long-term (≥ 14 days) 3D cell culture in a perfusable microphysiological environment. Results: Aprotinin-supplemented endothelial cell growth medium-2 (EGM-2) supported the simultaneous formation of neuronal networks, vascular structures, mural cell differentiation, and the stability of the 3D matrix. The formed neuronal and vascular networks were morphologically and functionally characterized. Neuronal networks supported vasculature formation based on direct cell contacts and by dramatically increasing the secretion of angiogenesis-related factors in multicultures in contrast to cocultures without neurons. Both utilized mural cell types supported the formation of neurovascular networks; however, the BMSCs seemed to boost neurovascular networks to greater extent. Conclusions: Overall, our study provides a novel human neurovascular network model that is applicable for creating in vivo-like tissue models with intrinsic neurovascular interactions. The 3D neurovascular network model on chip forms an initial platform for the development of vascularized and innervated organ-on-chip and further body-on-chip concepts and offers the possibility for mechanistic studies on neurovascular communication both under healthy and in disease conditions. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
Number of pages15
JournalCELL COMMUNICATION AND SIGNALING
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • 3D cell culture
  • Angiogenesis
  • Cellular communication
  • Human cells
  • Microfluidic
  • Neurovascular interactions

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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