Organoid models – 3D culture


Lung organoids provide a model system to study processes of repair/regeneration of lung epithelium. Defective alveolar repair as observed in COPD can be recapitulated using this model.

Organoids of alveolar epithelial cells in co-culture with fibroblasts can be used to evaluate efficacy of investigational compounds on stem/progenitor cell functions in the lung. Progenitor cells are isolated based on established protocols and brought into co-culture with fibroblasts to mimic the epithelial/mesenchymal communication that is required to drive alveolar repair.

Organoids can be generated from cells of murine and human origin and co-cultured with healthy and diseased primary human fibroblasts to study disease-specific communication between cell types during repair.


  • Organoid number
  • Organoid size
  • Differentiation into mature type I and II cells using immunofluoresence
  • Gene expression patterns

Additional read-outs are available on request.




Impact on organoid formation

The impact of your investigational compound on organoid formation can be investigated. We have identified different processes in organoid formation, that can all be modulated by inhibition or stimulation of specific pathways.  These processes include initial progenitor cell division, subsequent proliferative expansion and thereafter differentiation towards alveolar and airway organoids. Treatment scheme can be discussed depending on the target of interest, as treatments can be added at the start of each phase.

TGF-β pretreatment of fibroblasts

TGF-β signalling induces myofibroblast differentiation, which contributes to remodelling in COPD and IPF. We have shown that pre-treatment of human lung fibroblasts (MRC-5 and primary) with TGF-β impairs the ability to support organoid formation. The reduced organoid growth can be rescued by investigational compounds.

Cigarette smoke extract exposure

Cigarette smoke is one of the main drivers of COPD and contributes to remodeling in COPD. Exposure of organoids to increasing concentrations of cigarette smoke extract reduces the organoid formation with a significant reduction in the number of organoids that are formed per well.

Diesel exposure

Next to cigarette smoke, exposure to air pollution including diesel particles as in important contributor to COPD. In the organoid model, diesel exposure reduces the organoid formation, comparable to that observed with cigarette smoke exposure.


Previous publications

–        Ng-Blichfeldt JP, Schrik A, Kortekaas RK, Noordhoek JA, Heijink IH, Hiemstra PS, Stolk J, Königshoff M, Gosens R. Retinoic acid signaling balances adult distal lung epithelial progenitor cell growth and differentiation. EBioMedicine. 2018 Oct;36:461-474.

–        J.-P. Ng-Blichfeldt , V. Guryev , P.S. Hiemstra , J. Stolk , M. Koenigshoff , R. Gosens. Myofibroblast Differentiation Impairs Ability to Support Adult Distal Lung Epithelial Organoid Formation. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;197:A7623.

–      X. Wu , E.M. Dijk , J.-P. Ng-Blichfeldt , S. Bos , L.E.M. Kistemaker , R. Gosens. WNT5a/5b Signaling Represses Functional Responses in Lung Epithelial Progenitors. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;197:A7624.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email