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mSphere. 2015 Nov 18;1(1). pii: e00030-15. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00030-15. eCollection 2016 Jan-Feb.

A Three-Dimensional Cell Culture Model To Study Enterovirus Infection of Polarized Intestinal Epithelial Cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA; The Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.


Despite serving as the primary entry portal for coxsackievirus B (CVB), little is known about CVB infection of the intestinal epithelium, owing at least in part to the lack of suitable in vivo models and the inability of cultured cells to recapitulate the complexity and structure associated with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Here, we report on the development of a three-dimensional (3-D) organotypic cell culture model of Caco-2 cells to model CVB infection of the gastrointestinal epithelium. We show that Caco-2 cells grown in 3-D using the rotating wall vessel (RWV) bioreactor recapitulate many of the properties of the intestinal epithelium, including the formation of well-developed tight junctions, apical-basolateral polarity, brush borders, and multicellular complexity. In addition, transcriptome analyses using transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) revealed the induction of a number of genes associated with intestinal epithelial differentiation and/or intestinal processes in vivo when Caco-2 cells were cultured in 3-D. Applying this model to CVB infection, we found that although the levels of intracellular virus production were similar in two-dimensional (2-D) and 3-D Caco-2 cell cultures, the release of infectious CVB was enhanced in 3-D cultures at early stages of infection. Unlike CVB, the replication of poliovirus (PV) was significantly reduced in 3-D Caco-2 cell cultures. Collectively, our studies show that Caco-2 cells grown in 3-D using the RWV bioreactor provide a cell culture model that structurally and transcriptionally represents key aspects of cells in the human GI tract and can thus be used to expand our understanding of enterovirus-host interactions in intestinal epithelial cells. IMPORTANCE Coxsackievirus B (CVB), a member of the enterovirus family of RNA viruses, is associated with meningitis, pericarditis, diabetes, dilated cardiomyopathy, and myocarditis, among other pathologies. CVB is transmitted via the fecal-oral route and encounters the epithelium lining the gastrointestinal tract early in infection. The lack of suitable in vivo and in vitro models to study CVB infection of the gastrointestinal epithelium has limited our understanding of the events that surround infection of these specialized cells. Here, we report on the development of a three-dimensional (3-D) organotypic cell culture model of human intestinal epithelial cells that better models the gastrointestinal epithelium in vivo. By applying this 3-D model, which recapitulates many aspects of the gastrointestinal epithelium in vivo, to the study of CVB infection, our work provides a new cell system to model the mechanisms by which CVB infects the intestinal epithelium, which may have a profound impact on CVB pathogenesis. Podcast: A podcast concerning this article is available.


3-D cell culture; RWV bioreactor; coxsackievirus B; enterovirus; intestinal epithelial cell

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