Greggio, Chiara2; De Franceschi, Filippo2; Figueiredo-Larsen, Evan Manuel3; Grapin-Botton, Anne3
1 Developmental biology - endoderm and pancreas development Lab, The Danish Stem Cell Center, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, School of Life Sciences, Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research.3 Developmental biology - endoderm and pancreas development Lab, The Danish Stem Cell Center, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
The pancreas is an essential organ that regulates glucose homeostasis and secretes digestive enzymes. Research on pancreas embryogenesis has led to the development of protocols to produce pancreatic cells from stem cells (1). The whole embryonic organ can be cultured at multiple stages of development (2-4). These culture methods have been useful to test drugs and to image developmental processes. However the expansion of the organ is very limited and morphogenesis is not faithfully recapitulated since the organ flattens. We propose three-dimensional (3D) culture conditions that enable the efficient expansion of dissociated mouse embryonic pancreatic progenitors. By manipulating the composition of the culture medium it is possible to generate either hollow spheres, mainly composed of pancreatic progenitors expanding in their initial state, or, complex organoids which progress to more mature expanding progenitors and differentiate into endocrine, acinar and ductal cells and which spontaneously self-organize to resemble the embryonic pancreas. We show here that the in vitro process recapitulates many aspects of natural pancreas development. This culture system is suitable to investigate how cells cooperate to form an organ by reducing its initial complexity to few progenitors. It is a model that reproduces the 3D architecture of the pancreas and that is therefore useful to study morphogenesis, including polarization of epithelial structures and branching. It is also appropriate to assess the response to mechanical cues of the niche such as stiffness and the effects on cell´s tensegrity.
Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2014, Issue 89, p. 1-8