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Bioengineered in Vitro Tissue Model of Fibroblast Activation for Modeling Pulmonary Fibrosis

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journal contribution
posted on 10.04.2019, 00:00 by Aswin Sundarakrishnan, Heather Zukas, Jeannine Coburn, Brian T. Bertini, Zhiyi Liu, Irene Georgakoudi, Lauren Baugh, Queeny Dasgupta, Lauren D. Black, David L. Kaplan
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a complex disease of unknown etiology with no current curative treatment. Modeling pulmonary fibrotic (PF) tissue has the potential to improve our understanding of IPF disease progression and treatment. Rodent animal models do not replicate human fibroblastic foci (Hum-FF) pathology, and current iterations of in vitro model systems (e.g., collagen hydrogels, polyacrylamide hydrogels, and fibrosis-on-chip systems) are unable to replicate the three-dimensional (3D) complexity and biochemical composition of human PF tissue. Herein, we fabricated a 3D bioengineered pulmonary fibrotic (Eng-PF) tissue utilizing cell laden silk collagen type I dityrosine cross-linked hydrogels and Flexcell bioreactors. We show that silk collagen type I hydrogels have superior stability and mechanical tunability compared to other hydrogel systems. Using customized Flexcell bioreactors, we reproduced Hum-FF-like pathology with airway epithelial and microvascular endothelial cells. Eng-PF tissues can model myofibroblast differentiation and permit evaluation of antifibrotic drug treatments. Further, Eng-PF tissues could be used to model different facets of IPF disease, including epithelial injury with the addition of bleomycin and cellular recruitment by perfusion of cells through the hydrogel microchannel.