The generation of tissue‐engineered epithelial models is often hampered by the limited proliferative capacity of primary epithelial cells. This study aimed to isolate normal tonsillar keratinocytes (NTK) from human tonsils, increase the lifespan of these cells using the Rho kinase inhibitor Y‐27632 and to develop tissue‐engineered equivalents of healthy and infected tonsil epithelium. The proliferation rate of isolated NTK and expression of c‐MYC and p16INK4A were measured in the absence or presence of the inhibitor. Y‐27632‐treated NTK were used to generate tissue‐engineered tonsil epithelium equivalents using de‐epidermised dermis that were then incubated with Streptococcus pyogenes to model bacterial tonsillitis, and the expression of pro‐inflammatory cytokines was measured by cytokine array and ELISA. NTK cultured in the absence of Y‐27632 rapidly senesced whereas cells cultured in the presence of this inhibitor proliferated for over 30 population doublings without changing their phenotype. Y‐27632‐treated NTK produced a multi‐layered differentiated epithelium that histologically resembled normal tonsillar surface epithelium and responded to S. pyogenes infection by increased expression of pro‐inflammatory cytokines including CXCL5 and IL‐6. NTK can be isolated and successfully cultured in vitro with Y‐27632 leading to a markedly prolonged lifespan without any deleterious consequences to cell morphology. This functional tissue‐engineered equivalent of tonsil epithelium will provide a valuable tool for studying tonsil biology and host‐pathogen interactions in a more physiologically relevant manner.
Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ; ;
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