Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Intestinal Organoids to Study and Modify Epithelial Cell Protection Against Salmonella and Other Pathogens

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


The intestinal ‘organoid’ (iHO) system, wherein 3-D structures representative of the epithelial lining of the human gut can be produced from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and maintained in culture, provides an exciting opportunity to facilitate the modeling of the epithelial response to enteric infections. In vivo, intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) play a key role in regulating intestinal homeostasis and may directly inhibit pathogens, although the mechanisms by which this occurs are not fully elucidated. The cytokine interleukin-22 (IL-22) has been shown to play a role in the maintenance and defense of the gut epithelial barrier, including inducing a release of antimicrobial peptides and chemokines in response to infection.

We describe the differentiation of healthy control hiPSCs into iHOs via the addition of specific cytokine combinations to their culture medium before embedding them into a basement membrane matrix-based prointestinal culture system. Once embedded, the iHOs are grown in media supplemented with Noggin, R-spondin-1, epidermal growth factor (EGF), CHIR99021, prostaglandin E2, and Y-27632 dihydrochloride monohydrate. Weekly passages by manual disruption of the iHO ultrastructure lead to the formation of budded iHOs, with some exhibiting a crypt/villus structure. All iHOs demonstrate a differentiated epithelium consisting of goblet cells, enteroendocrine cells, Paneth cells, and polarized enterocytes, which can be confirmed via immunostaining for specific markers of each cell subset, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and quantitative PCR (qPCR). To model infection, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 are microinjected into the lumen of the iHOs and incubated for 90 min at 37 °C, and a modified gentamicin protection assay is performed to identify the levels of intracellular bacterial invasion. Some iHOs are also pretreated with recombinant human IL-22 (rhIL-22) prior to infection to establish whether this cytokine is protective against Salmonella infection.