Human airway organoid engineering as a step toward lung regeneration and disease modeling

Qi Tan, Kyoung Moo Choi, Delphine Sicard, Daniel J. Tschumperlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Organoids represent both a potentially powerful tool for the study cell-cell interactions within tissue-like environments, and a platform for tissue regenerative approaches. The development of lung tissue-like organoids from human adult-derived cells has not previously been reported. Here we combined human adult primary bronchial epithelial cells, lung fibroblasts, and lung microvascular endothelial cells in supportive 3D culture conditions to generate airway organoids. We demonstrate that randomly-seeded mixed cell populations undergo rapid condensation and self-organization into discrete epithelial and endothelial structures that are mechanically robust and stable during long term culture. After condensation airway organoids generate invasive multicellular tubular structures that recapitulate limited aspects of branching morphogenesis, and require actomyosin-mediated force generation and YAP/TAZ activation. Despite the proximal source of primary epithelium used in the airway organoids, discrete areas of both proximal and distal epithelial markers were observed over time in culture, demonstrating remarkable epithelial plasticity within the context of organoid cultures. Airway organoids also exhibited complex multicellular responses to a prototypical fibrogenic stimulus (TGF-β1) in culture, and limited capacity to undergo continued maturation and engraftment after ectopic implantation under the murine kidney capsule. These results demonstrate that the airway organoid system developed here represents a novel tool for the study of disease-relevant cell-cell interactions, and establishes this platform as a first step toward cell-based therapy for chronic lung diseases based on de novo engineering of implantable airway tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-132
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • 3D culture
  • Organoid implantation
  • Pulmonary fibrosis modeling
  • Self-organization
  • YAP
  • de novo lung regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


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