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1.  Designing a Multicellular Organotypic 3D Liver Model with a Detachable, Nanoscale Polymeric Space of Disse 
Tissue Engineering. Part C, Methods  2013;19(11):875-884.
The design of in vitro models that mimic the stratified multicellular hepatic microenvironment continues to be challenging. Although several in vitro hepatic cultures have been shown to exhibit liver functions, their physiological relevance is limited due to significant deviation from in vivo cellular composition. We report the assembly of a novel three-dimensional (3D) organotypic liver model incorporating three different cell types (hepatocytes, liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, and Kupffer cells) and a polymeric interface that mimics the Space of Disse. The nanoscale interface is detachable, optically transparent, derived from self-assembled polyelectrolyte multilayers, and exhibits a Young's modulus similar to in vivo values for liver tissue. Only the 3D liver models simultaneously maintain hepatic phenotype and elicit proliferation, while achieving cellular ratios found in vivo. The nanoscale detachable polymeric interfaces can be modulated to mimic basement membranes that exhibit a wide range of physical properties. This facile approach offers a versatile new avenue in the assembly of engineered tissues. These results demonstrate the ability of the tri-cellular 3D cultures to serve as an organotypic hepatic model that elicits proliferation and maintenance of phenotype and in vivo-like cellular ratios.
PMCID: PMC3793659  PMID: 23556413
2.  Summarizing cellular responses as biological process networks 
BMC Systems Biology  2013;7:68.
Microarray experiments can simultaneously identify thousands of genes that show significant perturbation in expression between two experimental conditions. Response networks, computed through the integration of gene interaction networks with expression perturbation data, may themselves contain tens of thousands of interactions. Gene set enrichment has become standard for summarizing the results of these analyses in terms functionally coherent collections of genes such as biological processes. However, even these methods can yield hundreds of enriched functions that may overlap considerably.
We describe a new technique called Markov chain Monte Carlo Biological Process Networks (MCMC-BPN) capable of reporting a highly non-redundant set of links between processes that describe the molecular interactions that are perturbed under a specific biological context. Each link in the BPN represents the perturbed interactions that serve as the interfaces between the two processes connected by the link.
We apply MCMC-BPN to publicly available liver-related datasets to demonstrate that the networks formed by the most probable inter-process links reported by MCMC-BPN show high relevance to each biological condition. We show that MCMC-BPN’s ability to discern the few key links from in a very large solution space by comparing results from two other methods for detecting inter-process links.
MCMC-BPN is successful in using few inter-process links to explain as many of the perturbed gene-gene interactions as possible. Thereby, BPNs summarize the important biological trends within a response network by reporting a digestible number of inter-process links that can be explored in greater detail.
PMCID: PMC3751784  PMID: 23895181
Molecular interaction networks; Gene expression data; Networks of biological processes; Data integration; Markov chain Monte Carlo
3.  Polyelectrolyte Multilayers in Tissue Engineering 
The layer-by-layer assembly of sequentially adsorbed, alternating polyelectrolytes has become increasingly important over the past two decades. The ease and versatility in assembling polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) has resulted in numerous wide ranging applications of these materials. More recently, PEMs are being used in biological applications ranging from biomaterials, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and drug delivery. The ability to manipulate the chemical, physical, surface, and topographical properties of these multilayer architectures by simply changing the pH, ionic strength, thickness, and postassembly modifications render them highly suitable to probe the effects of external stimuli on cellular responsiveness. In the field of regenerative medicine, the ability to sequester growth factors and to tether peptides to PEMs has been exploited to direct the lineage of progenitor cells and to subsequently maintain a desired phenotype. Additional novel applications include the use of PEMs in the assembly of three-dimensional layered architectures and as coatings for individual cells to deliver tunable payloads of drugs or bioactive molecules. This review focuses on literature related to the modulation of chemical and physical properties of PEMs for tissue engineering applications and recent research efforts in maintaining and directing cellular phenotype in stem cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3062467  PMID: 21210759
4.  Engineered Three-Dimensional Liver Mimics Recapitulate Critical Rat-Specific Bile Acid Pathways 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;17(5-6):677-689.
A critical hepatic function is the maintenance of optimal bile acid (BA) compositions to achieve cholesterol homeostasis. BAs are rarely quantified to assess hepatic phenotype in vitro since existing analytical techniques have inadequate resolution. We report a detailed investigation into the biosynthesis and homeostasis of eight primary rat BAs in conventional in vitro hepatocyte cultures and in an engineered liver mimic. The three-dimensional (3D) liver mimic was assembled with layers of primary rat hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. A high-pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry technique was developed with a detection limit of 1 ng/mL for each BA, which is significantly lower than previous approaches. Over a 2-week culture, only 3D liver mimics exhibited the ratio of conjugated cholic acid to chenodeoxycholic acid that has been observed in vivo. This ratio, an important marker of BA homeostasis, was significantly higher in stable collagen sandwich cultures indicating significant deviation from physiological behavior. The biosynthesis of tauro-β-muricholic acid, a key primary rat BA, doubled only in the engineered liver mimics while decreasing in the other systems. These trends demonstrate that the 3D liver mimics provide a unique platform to study hepatic metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3043955  PMID: 20929286
5.  A Comparative Study of Genome-Wide Transcriptional Profiles of Primary Hepatocytes in Collagen Sandwich and Monolayer Cultures 
Tissue Engineering. Part C, Methods  2010;16(6):1449-1460.
Two commonly used culture systems in hepatic tissue engineering are the collagen sandwich (CS) and monolayers of cells. In this study, genome-wide gene expression profiles of primary hepatocytes were measured over an 8-day period for each cell culture system using Affymetrix GeneChips and compared via gene set enrichment analysis to elicit biologically meaningful information at the level of gene sets. Our results demonstrate that gene expression in hepatocytes in CS cultures steadily and comprehensively diverges from that in monolayer cultures. Gene sets up-regulated in CS cultures include several associated with liver metabolic and synthesis functions, such as metabolism of lipids, amino acids, carbohydrates, and alcohol, and synthesis of bile acids. Monooxygenases such as Cytochrome-P450 enzymes do not show any change between the culture systems after 1 day, but exhibit significant up-regulation in CS cultures after 3 days in comparison to hepatocyte monolayers. These data provide insights into the up- and down-regulation of several liver-critical gene sets and their subsequent effects on liver-specific functions. These results provide a baseline for further explorations into the systems biology of engineered liver mimics.
PMCID: PMC2988646  PMID: 20412007
6.  The Design of In Vitro Liver Sinusoid Mimics Using Chitosan–Hyaluronic Acid Polyelectrolyte Multilayers 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(9):2731-2741.
Interactions between hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are essential for the development and maintenance of hepatic phenotypic functions. We report the assembly of three-dimensional liver sinusoidal mimics comprised of primary rat hepatocytes, LSECs, and an intermediate chitosan–hyaluronic acid polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM). The height of the PEMs ranged from 30 to 55 nm and exhibited a shear modulus of ∼100 kPa. Hepatocyte–PEM cellular constructs exhibited stable urea and albumin production over a 7-day period, and these values were either higher or similar to cells cultured in a collagen sandwich. This is of significance because the thickness of a collagen gel is ∼1000-fold higher than the height of the chitosan–hyaluronic acid PEM. In the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC liver-mimetic cellular constructs, LSEC phenotype was maintained, and these cultures exhibited stable urea and albumin production. CYP1A1/2 activity measured over a 7-day period was significantly higher in the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC constructs than in collagen sandwich cultures. A 16-fold increase in CYP1A1/2 activity was observed for hepatocyte–PEM–10,000 LSEC samples, thereby suggesting that interactions between hepatocytes and LSECs are critical in enhancing the detoxification capability in hepatic cultures in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2928042  PMID: 20491586
7.  Discovering Networks of Perturbed Biological Processes in Hepatocyte Cultures 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15247.
The liver plays a vital role in glucose homeostasis, the synthesis of bile acids and the detoxification of foreign substances. Liver culture systems are widely used to test adverse effects of drugs and environmental toxicants. The two most prevalent liver culture systems are hepatocyte monolayers (HMs) and collagen sandwiches (CS). Despite their wide use, comprehensive transcriptional programs and interaction networks in these culture systems have not been systematically investigated. We integrated an existing temporal transcriptional dataset for HM and CS cultures of rat hepatocytes with a functional interaction network of rat genes. We aimed to exploit the functional interactions to identify statistically significant linkages between perturbed biological processes. To this end, we developed a novel approach to compute Contextual Biological Process Linkage Networks (CBPLNs). CBPLNs revealed numerous meaningful connections between different biological processes and gene sets, which we were successful in interpreting within the context of liver metabolism. Multiple phenomena captured by CBPLNs at the process level such as regulation, downstream effects, and feedback loops have well described counterparts at the gene and protein level. CBPLNs reveal high-level linkages between pathways and processes, making the identification of important biological trends more tractable than through interactions between individual genes and molecules alone. Our approach may provide a new route to explore, analyze, and understand cellular responses to internal and external cues within the context of the intricate networks of molecular interactions that control cellular behavior.
PMCID: PMC3016309  PMID: 21245926
8.  3D Hepatic Cultures Simultaneously Maintain Primary Hepatocyte and Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cell Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15456.
Developing in vitro engineered hepatic tissues that exhibit stable phenotype is a major challenge in the field of hepatic tissue engineering. However, the rapid dedifferentiation of hepatic parenchymal (hepatocytes) and non-parenchymal (liver sinusoidal endothelial, LSEC) cell types when removed from their natural environment in vivo remains a major obstacle. The primary goal of this study was to demonstrate that hepatic cells cultured in layered architectures could preserve or potentially enhance liver-specific behavior of both cell types. Primary rat hepatocytes and rat LSECs (rLSECs) were cultured in a layered three-dimensional (3D) configuration. The cell layers were separated by a chitosan-hyaluronic acid polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM), which served to mimic the Space of Disse. Hepatocytes and rLSECs exhibited several key phenotypic characteristics over a twelve day culture period. Immunostaining for the sinusoidal endothelial 1 antibody (SE-1) demonstrated that rLSECs cultured in the 3D hepatic model maintained this unique feature over twelve days. In contrast, rLSECs cultured in monolayers lost their phenotype within three days. The unique stratified structure of the 3D culture resulted in enhanced heterotypic cell-cell interactions, which led to improvements in hepatocyte functions. Albumin production increased three to six fold in the rLSEC-PEM-Hepatocyte cultures. Only rLSEC-PEM-Hepatocyte cultures exhibited increasing CYP1A1/2 and CYP3A activity. Well-defined bile canaliculi were observed only in the rLSEC-PEM-Hepatocyte cultures. Together, these data suggest that rLSEC-PEM-Hepatocyte cultures are highly suitable models to monitor the transformation of toxins in the liver and their transport out of this organ. In summary, these results indicate that the layered rLSEC-PEM-hepatocyte model, which recapitulates key features of hepatic sinusoids, is a potentially powerful medium for obtaining comprehensive knowledge on liver metabolism, detoxification and signaling pathways in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2980491  PMID: 21103392

Results 1-8 (8)