The development of more complex in vitro airway models is needed for the assessment of novel drugs and chemicals because of the limited biological relevance of animal models to humans as well as ethical considerations1. Many cell-based assays are usually developed in 2D with limited cellular and functional representation of the native tissue. An optimal co-culture model is needed to truly understand the cellular interactions and mimic the features of airway remodeling in the diseased states. For instance, tissue injury is associated with airway remodeling in several airway diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and fibrosis alveolitis2. In the case of epithelial injury, certain airway epithelial-derived mediators can stimulate the proliferation of smooth muscle cells.
With current 2D and 3D methods, it is sometimes challenging to layer and establish 3D co-culture models with multiple cell types to achieve the complexity of an airway model. In order to better understand cellular interactions, we developed a preliminary 3D co culture system with bronchial epithelial and smooth muscle cells from normal and asthmatic donors using the RAFTTM 3D Cell Culture System. As a next step, we seek to develop a stratified air-liquid interface model using bronchial epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.