Modelling the microbiome: anaerobic organ-on-a-chip supports complex microbial community

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A research team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute (MA, USA) have developed an anaerobic organ-on-a-chip model of the microbiome. This microfluidic culture allows a stable complex human microbiome to become established in direct contact with a vascularized human intestinal epithelium for at least 5 days.

Studying direct interactions of the microbiome in the gut has presented a formidable challenge, with most current knowledge of the microbiome being based on correlational studies between disease state and bacterial DNA contained in stool samples.

In this study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team cultured a stable microbiome in direct contact with intestinal epithelium, demonstrating that the oxygen gradient was representative of the human intestine. The anaerobic organ-on-a-chip stably maintained a microbial diversity similar to that in human feces over the course of several days and a protective physiological barrier was formed by human intestinal tissue.

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