Modeling Host-Pathogen Interactions in the Context of the Microenvironment: Three-Dimensional Cell Culture Comes of Age
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1128/iai.00282-18
Tissues and organs provide the structural and biochemical landscapes upon which microbial pathogens and commensals function to regulate health and disease. While flat two-dimensional (2-D) monolayers composed of a single cell type have provided important insight into understanding host-pathogen interactions and infectious disease mechanisms, these reductionist models lack many essential features present in the native host microenvironment that are known to regulate infection, including three-dimensional (3-D) architecture, multicellular complexity, commensal microbiota, gas exchange and nutrient gradients, and physiologically relevant biomechanical forces (e.g., fluid shear, stretch, compression). A major challenge in tissue engineering for infectious disease research is recreating this dynamic 3-D microenvironment (biological, chemical, and physical/mechanical) to more accurately model the initiation and progression of host-pathogen interactions in the laboratory. Here we review selected 3-D models of human intestinal mucosa, which represent a major portal of entry for infectious pathogens and an important niche for commensal microbiota. We highlight seminal studies that have used these models to interrogate host-pathogen interactions and infectious disease mechanisms, and we present this literature in the appropriate historical context. Models discussed include 3-D organotypic cultures engineered in the rotating wall vessel (RWV) bioreactor, extracellular matrix (ECM)-embedded/organoid models, and organ-on-a-chip (OAC) models. Collectively, these technologies provide a more physiologically relevant and predictive framework for investigating infectious disease mechanisms and antimicrobial therapies at the intersection of the host, microbe, and their local microenvironments.