Design by Nature: Emerging Applications of Native Liver Extracellular Matrix for Cholangiocyte Organoid-Based Regenerative Medicine

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Organoid technology holds great promise for regenerative medicine. Recent studies show feasibility for bile duct tissue repair in humans by successfully transplanting cholangiocyte organoids in liver grafts during perfusion. Large-scale expansion of cholangiocytes is essential for extending these regenerative medicine applications. Human cholangiocyte organoids have a high and stable proliferation capacity, making them an attractive source of cholangiocytes. Commercially available basement membrane extract (BME) is used to expand the organoids. BME allows the cells to self-organize into 3D structures and stimulates cell proliferation. However, the use of BME is limiting the clinical applications of the organoids. There is a need for alternative tissue-specific and clinically relevant culture substrates capable of supporting organoid proliferation. Hydrogels prepared from decellularized and solubilized native livers are an attractive alternative for BME. These hydrogels can be used for the culture and expansion of cholangiocyte organoids in a clinically relevant manner. Moreover, the liver-derived hydrogels retain tissue-specific aspects of the extracellular microenviron-ment. They are composed of a complex mixture of bioactive and biodegradable extracellular matrix (ECM) components and can support the growth of various hepatobiliary cells. In this review, we provide an overview of the clinical potential of native liver ECM-based hydrogels for applications with human cholangiocyte organoids. We discuss the current limitations of BME for the clinical applications of organoids and how native ECM hydrogels can potentially overcome these problems in an effort to unlock the full regenerative clinical potential of the organoids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: This research was funded by Medical Delta program grant, Regenerative Medicine 4D; TKI-LSH grant, project number EMC-LSH19002 and NVGE Gastrostart fund, project number 2019-06.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


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