[Kimura H, Ikeda T, Nakayama H, Sakai Y, Fujii T. An On-Chip Small Intestine-Liver Model for Pharmacokinetic Studies. J Lab Autom. 2014 Nov 10.]
Testing of drug effects and cytotoxicity by using cultured cells has been widely performed as an alternative to animal testing. However, the estimation of pharmacokinetics by conventional cell-based assay methods is difficult because of the inability to evaluate multiorgan effects. An important challenge in the field is to mimic the organ-to-organ network in the human body by using a microfluidic network connecting small-scale tissues based on recently emerging MicroTAS (Micro Total Analysis Systems) technology for prediction of pharmacokinetics. Here, we describe an on-chip small intestine-liver coupled model for pharmacokinetic studies. To construct an in vitro pharmacokinetic model that appropriately models in vivo conditions, physiological parameters such as the structure of internal circulation, volume ratios of each organ, and blood flow ratio of the portal vein to the hepatic artery were mimicked using microfluidic networks. To demonstrate interactions between organs in vitro in pharmacokinetic studies, Caco-2, HepG2, and A549 cell cultures were used as organ models of the small intestine, liver, and lung, respectively, and connected to each other through a microporous membrane and microchannels to prepare a simple model of a physiological organ-to-organ network. The on-chip organ model assay using three types of substrate-epirubicine (EPI), irinotecan (CPT-11), and cyclophosphamide (CPA)-were conducted to model the effects of orally administered or biologically active anticancer drugs. The result suggested that the device can replicate physiological phenomena such as activity of the anticancer drugs on the target cells. This microfluidic device can thus be used as an in vitro organ model to predict the pharmacokinetics of drugs in the human body and may thus provide not only an alternative to animal testing but also a method of obtaining parameters for in silico models of physiologically based pharmacokinetics.