Human vascularized bile duct-on-a chip: a multi-cellular micro-physiological system for studying cholestatic liver disease

Yu Du, Iris E.M. de Jong, Kapish Gupta, Orit Waisbourd-Zinman, Adi Har-Zahav, Carol J. Soroka, James L. Boyer, Jessica Llewellyn, Chengyang Liu, Ali Naji, William J. Polacheck, Rebecca G. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exploring the pathogenesis of and developing therapies for cholestatic liver diseases such as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) remains challenging, partly due to a paucity of in vitro models that capture the complex environments contributing to disease progression and partly due to difficulty in obtaining cholangiocytes. Here we report the development of a human vascularized bile duct-on-a-chip (VBDOC) that uses cholangiocyte organoids derived from normal bile duct tissue and human vascular endothelial cells to model bile ducts and blood vessels structurally and functionally in three dimensions. Cholangiocytes in the duct polarized, formed mature tight junctions and had permeability properties comparable to those measured in ex vivo systems. The flow of blood and bile was modeled by perfusion of the cell-lined channels, and cholangiocytes and endothelial cells displayed differential responses to flow. We also showed that the device can be constructed with biliary organoids from cells isolated from both bile duct tissue and the bile of PSC patients. Cholangiocytes in the duct became more inflammatory under the stimulation of IL-17A, which induced peripheral blood mononuclear cells and differentiated Th17 cells to transmigrate across the vascular channel. In sum, this human VBDOC recapitulated the vascular-biliary interface structurally and functionally and represents a novel multicellular platform to study inflammatory and fibrotic cholestatic liver diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015004
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • cholangiopathy
  • microfluidic device
  • organ-on-a-chip
  • primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • tissue engineering

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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