Effect of gut microbiome-derived metabolites and extracellular vesicles on hepatocyte functions in a gut-liver axis chip

Extracellular Vesicles

Metabolism, is a complex process involving the gut and the liver tissue, is difficult to be reproduced in vitro with conventional single cell culture systems. To tackle this challenge, we developed a gut-liver-axis chip consisting of the gut epithelial cell chamber and three-dimensional (3D) uniform-sized liver spheroid chamber. Two cell culture chamber compartments were separated with a porous membrane to prevent microorganisms from passing through the chamber. When the hepG2 spheroids cultured with microbiota-derived metabolites, we observed the changes in the physiological function of hepG2 spheroids, showing that the albumin and urea secretion activity of liver spheroids was significantly enhanced. Additionally, the functional validation of hepG2 spheroids treated with microbiota-derived exosome was evaluated that the treatment of the microbiota-derived exosome significantly enhanced albumin and urea in hepG2 spheroids in a gut-liver axis chip. Therefore, this gut-liver axis chip could be a potentially powerful co-culture platform to study the interaction of microbiota and host cells.

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Recent Publications

Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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