Modeling the lung: Design and development of tissue engineered macro- and micro-physiologic lung models for research use

Joan Nichols, Jean A. Niles, Stephanie P. Vega, Lissenya B. Argueta, Adriene Eastaway, Joaquin Cortiella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Respiratory tract specific cell populations, or tissue engineered in vitro grown human lung, have the potential to be used as research tools to mimic physiology, toxicology, pathology, as well as infectious diseases responses of cells or tissues. Studies related to respiratory tract pathogenesis or drug toxicity testing in the past made use of basic systems where single cell populations were exposed to test agents followed by evaluations of simple cellular responses. Although these simple single-cell-type systems provided good basic information related to cellular responses, much more can be learned from cells grown in fabricated microenvironments which mimic in vivo conditions in specialized microfabricated chambers or by human tissue engineered three-dimensional (3D) models which allow for more natural interactions between cells. Recent advances in microengineering technology, microfluidics, and tissue engineering have provided a new approach to the development of 2D and 3D cell culture models which enable production of more robust human in vitro respiratory tract models. Complex models containing multiple cell phenotypes also provide a more reasonable approximation of what occurs in vivo without the confounding elements in the dynamic in vivo environment. The goal of engineering good 3D human models is the formation of physiologically functional respiratory tissue surrogates which can be used as pathogenesis models or in the case of 2D screening systems for drug therapy evaluation as well as human toxicity testing. We hope that this manuscript will serve as a guide for development of future respiratory tract model systems as well as a review of conventional models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1169
Number of pages35
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D lung models
  • Engineered lung models
  • engineered organ models
  • micro-physiologic lung
  • physiologic lung as a model
  • upper respiratory tract models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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