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Toxicol In Vitro. 2015 Feb;29(1):234-41.

A coculture model of the lung–blood barrier: the role of activated phagocytic cells.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium.


We developed a coculture model of the lung–blood barrier using human bronchial epithelial cells(16HBE14o-), monocytes (THP-1) and human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLMVEC) in which several parameters can be assessed simultaneously. The epithelial and endothelial cells were grown on opposite sides of a microporous membrane. Electron and confocal microscopic pictures show the presence of the cells in their appropriate compartment and both cell types do not show evidence of growing through the pores. Out of three endothelial cell types (EAhy.926, HUVEC and HLMVEC), the last was chosen as the most appropriate cell type, best resembling the pulmonary endothelium and allowing the expression of functional tight junctions in the 16HBE14o- monolayer with sufficiently high transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) values. Finally, monocytes were added to the apical compartment. PMA-activated macrophages significantly affected barrier integrity (73% TEER reduction compared to control after 24 h) and disrupted the epithelial tight junctions as shown by redistribution of ZO-1 labeling. Alternatively, monocytes could be activated using lipopolysaccharide, at a sub-toxic level int he apical compartment and only induced a small, though significant, reduction in TEER.This coculture system is a representative model of the lung–blood barrier with barrier integrity as the main toxicity endpoint.

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