Product(s) used in this publication: Reference Peptides for Targeted Proteomics - SpikeTides™ & SpikeMix™
The luminal surface of the small intestine is composed of a monolayer of cells overlying a lamina propria comprised of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. The ECM provides a porous substrate critical for nutrient exchange and cellular adhesion. The enterocytes within the epithelial monolayer possess proteins such as transporters, carriers, pumps and channels that participate in the movement of drugs, metabolites, ions and amino acids and whose function can be regulated or altered by the properties of the ECM. Here, we characterized expression and function of proteins involved in transport across the human small intestinal epithelium grown on two different culture platforms. One strategy employs a conventional scaffolding method comprised of a thin ECM film overlaying a porous membrane while the other utilizes a thick ECM hydrogel placed on a porous membrane. The thick hydrogel possesses a gradient of chemical cross-linking along its length to provide a softer substrate than that of the ECM film-coated membrane while maintaining mechanical stability.
The monolayers on both platforms possessed goblet cells and abundant enterocytes and were impermeable to Lucifer yellow and fluorescein-dextran (70 kD) indicating high barrier integrity. Multiple transporter proteins were present in both primary-cell culture formats at levels similar to those present in freshly isolated crypts/villi; however, expression of breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) and multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2) in the monolayers on the conventional scaffold was substantially less than that on the gradient cross-linked scaffold and freshly isolated crypts/villi. Monolayers on the conventional scaffold failed to transport the BCRP substrate prazosin while cells on the gradient cross-linked scaffold successfully transported this drug to better mimic the properties of in vivo small intestine.
The results of this comparison highlight the need to create in vitro intestinal transport platforms whose characteristics mimic the in vivo lamina propria in order to accurately recapitulate epithelial function.