Damage to the cervical epithelial layer due to infection and inflammation is associated with preterm birth. However, the individual and/or collective roles of cervical epithelial layers in maintaining cervical integrity remain unclear during infection/inflammation. To determine the intercellular interactions, we developed an organ-on-chip of the cervical epithelial layer (CE-OOC) composed of two co-culture chambers connected by microchannels, recapitulating the ectocervical and endocervical epithelial layers. Further, we tested the interactions between cells from each distinct region and their contributions in maintaining cervical integrity in response to LPS and TNFα stimulations. The co-culture of ectocervical and endocervical cells facilitated cellular migration of both epithelial cells inside the microchannels. Compared to untreated controls, both LPS and TNFα increased apoptosis, necrosis, and senescence as well as increased pro-inflammatory cytokine productions by cervical epithelial cells. In summary, the CE-OOC established an in vitro model that can recapitulate the ectocervical and the endocervical epithelial regions of the cervix. The established CE-OOC may become a powerful tool in obstetrics and gynecology research such as in studying cervical remodeling during pregnancy and parturition and the dynamics of cervical epithelial cells in benign and malignant pathology in the cervix.
- cervical ripening
- epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
- preterm birth
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology