An isogenic hiPSC-derived BBB-on-a-chip

Pedram Motallebnejad, Andrew Thomas, Sarah L. Swisher, Samira M. Azarin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is composed of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) that regulate brain homeostasis, and astrocytes within the brain are involved in the maintenance of the BBB or modulation of its integrity in disease states via secreted factors. A major challenge in modeling the normal or diseased BBB is that conventional in vitro models lack either the physiological complexity of the BBB or key functional features such as formation of a sufficiently tight barrier. In this study, we utilized human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived BMECs in a BBB-on-a-chip device that supports flow and coculture with an astrocyte-laden 3D hydrogel. The BMECs are separated from the hydrogel by a porous membrane with either 0.4 or 8.0 μm pore size, making the device suitable for studying the transport of molecules or cells, respectively, across the BBB. In addition, all cells seeded in the device are differentiated from the same hiPSC line, which could enable genetic and rare disease modeling. Formation of a confluent BMEC barrier was confirmed by immunocytochemistry of tight junction proteins and measurement of fluorescein permeability. Integrity of the barrier was further assessed by performing impedance spectroscopy in the device. Finally, the ability of this device to recapitulate a disease model of BBB disruption was demonstrated, with apical addition of TGF-β1 leading to transendothelial electrical resistance reduction and indicators of astrocyte activation. These results demonstrate the utility of the fabricated device for a broad range of applications such as drug screening and mechanistic studies of BBB disruption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064119
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Minnesota. Portions of this work were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, which is supported by the National Science Foundation through the National Nano Coordinated Infrastructure Network (NNCI) under Award No. ECCS-1542202. Confocal microscopy imaging and analysis was performed at the University Imaging Centers, University of Minnesota. Differentiated astrocytes used in this work were a kind gift from Dr. Ethan S. Lippmann (Vanderbilt University).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Author(s).


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