Human Primary Epithelial Cell Models: Promising Tools in the Era of Cystic Fibrosis Personalized Medicine

Nikhil T. Awatade, Sharon L. Wong, Chris K. Hewson, Laura K. Fawcett, Anthony Kicic, Adam Jaffe, Shafagh A. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder where individual disease etiology and response to therapeutic intervention is impacted by CF transmembrane regulator (CFTR) mutations and other genetic modifiers. CFTR regulates multiple mechanisms in a diverse range of epithelial tissues. In this Review, we consolidate the latest updates in the development of primary epithelial cellular model systems relevant for CF. We discuss conventional two-dimensional (2-D) airway epithelial cell cultures, the backbone of in vitro cellular models to date, as well as improved expansion protocols to overcome finite supply of the cellular source. We highlight a range of strategies for establishment of three dimensional (3-D) airway and intestinal organoid models and evaluate the limitations and potential improvements in each system, focusing on their application in CF. The in vitro CFTR functional assays in patient-derived organoids allow for preclinical pharmacotherapy screening to identify responsive patients. It is likely that organoids will be an invaluable preclinical tool to unravel disease mechanisms, design novel treatments, and enable clinicians to provide personalized management for patients with CF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1429
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018


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