Human stroma and epithelium co-culture in a microfluidic model of a human prostate gland.

Jiang L, Ivich F, Tahsin S, Tran M, Frank SB, Miranti CK, Zohar Y. 2019. Human stroma and epithelium co-culture in a microfluidic model of a human prostate gland. Biomicrofluidics. 13:064116. doi:10.1063/1.5126714.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra of males at the base of the bladder comprising a muscular portion, which controls the release of urine, and a glandular portion, which secretes fluids that nourish and protect sperms. Here, we report the development of a microfluidic-based model of a human prostate gland. The polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic device, consisting of two stacked microchannels separated by a polyester porous membrane, enables long-term cocultivation of human epithelial and stromal cells. The porous separation membrane provides an anchoring scaffold for long-term culturing of the two cell types on its opposite surfaces allowing paracrine signaling but not cell crossing between the two channels. The microfluidic device is transparent enabling high resolution bright-field and fluorescence imaging. Within this coculture model of a human epithelium/stroma interface, we simulated the functional development of the human prostate gland. We observed the successful differentiation of basal epithelial cells into luminal secretory cells determined biochemically by immunostaining with known differentiation biomarkers, particularly androgen receptor expression. We also observed morphological changes where glandlike mounds appeared with relatively empty centers reminiscent of prostatic glandular acini structures. This prostate-on-a-chip will facilitate the direct evaluation of paracrine and endocrine cross talk between these two cell types as well as studies associated with normal vs disease-related events such as prostate cancer.