Peripheral lymphoid organs (PLOs), the primary sites of development of adaptive immune responses, display a complex structural organization reflecting separation of cellular subsets (e.g., T and B lymphocytes) and functional compartments which is critical for immune function. The generation of in vitro culture systems capable of recapitulating salient features of PLOs for experimental, biotechnological, and clinical applications would be highly desirable, but has been hampered so far by the complexity of these systems. We have previously developed a three-dimensional bioreactor system for long-term, functional culture of human bone marrow cells on macroporous microspheres in a packed-bed bioreactor with frequent medium change. Here we adapt the same system for culture of human primary cells from PLOs (tonsil) in the absence of specific exogenous growth factors or activators. Cells in this system displayed higher viability over several weeks, and maintain population diversity and cell surface markers largely comparable to primary cells. Light microscopy showed cells organizing in large diverse clusters within the scaffold pores and presence of B cell-enriched areas. Strikingly, these cultures generated a significant number of antibody-producing B cells when challenged with a panel of diverse antigens, as expected from a lymphoid tissue. Thus the three-dimensional tonsil bioreactor culture system may serve as a useful model of PLOs by recapitulating their structural organization and function ex vivo.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology