Testing of drugs using human feto-maternal interface organ-on-chips provide insights into pharmacokinetics and efficacy

Lauren S. Richardson, Ananth K. Kammala, Maged M. Costantine, Stephen J. Fortunato, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Sungjin Kim, Robert N. Taylor, Arum Han, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: To improve preclinical drug testing during pregnancy, we developed multiple microfluidic organ-on-chip (OOC) devices that represent the structure, functions, and responses of the two feto-maternal interfaces (FMis) in humans (fetal membrane [FMi-OOC] and placenta [PLA-OOC]). This study utilized feto-maternal interface OOCs to test the kinetics and efficacy of drugs during pregnancy. Study design: The FMi-OOC contained amnion epithelial, mesenchymal, chorion trophoblast, and decidual cells. The PLA-OOC contained cytotrophoblasts (BeWo), syncytiotrophoblasts (BeWo + forskolin), and human umbilical vein endothelial cell lines. Therapeutic concentrations of either pravastatin or rosuvastatin (200 ng mL−1), a model drug for these experiments, were applied to either decidua (in FMi-OOC) and syncytiotrophoblasts (in PLA-OOC) chambers under normal and oxidative stress conditions (induced by cigarette smoke extract [CSE 1 : 25]) to evaluate maternal drug exposure during normal pregnancy or oxidative stress (OS) associated pathologies, respectively. We determined statin pharmacokinetics and metabolism (LC-MS/MS), drug-induced cytotoxicity (LDH assay), and efficacy to reduce OS-induced inflammation (multiplex cytokine assay). Results: Both OOCs mimicked two distinct human feto-maternal interfaces. The drugs tested permeated the maternal-fetal cell layers of the FMi-OOC and PLA-OOC within 4 hours and generated cell and time-specific statin metabolites from various cell types without causing any cytotoxicity. OS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines were effectively reduced by statins by increasing anti-inflammatory cytokine response across the FMi-OOC and PLA-OOC. Conclusion: Two distinct feto-maternal interface OOCs were developed, tested, and validated for their utility to conduct preclinical trials during pregnancy. We demonstrated that the placenta and fetal membranes-decidual interface both are able to transport and metabolize drugs and that the safety and efficacy of a drug can be determined using the anatomical structures recreated on OOCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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