Development and characterization of an organotypic model of Barrett's esophagus

Rachelle E. Kosoff, Kristin L. Gardiner, Lauren M.F. Merlo, Kirill Pavlov, Anil K. Rustgi, Carlo C. Maley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Understanding the molecular and cellular processes underlying the development, maintenance, and progression of Barrett's esophagus (BE) presents an empirical challenge because there are no simple animal models and standard 2D cell culture can distort cellular processes. Here we describe a three-dimensional (3D) cell culture system to study BE. BE cell lines (CP-A, CP-B, CP-C, and CP-D) and esophageal squamous keratinocytes (EPC2) were cultured on a matrix consisting of esophageal fibroblasts and collagen. Comparison of growth and cytokeratin expression in the presence of all-trans retinoic acid or hydrochloric acid was made by immunohistochemistry and Alcian Blue staining to determine which treatments produced a BE phenotype of columnar cytokeratin expression in 3D culture. All-trans retinoic acid differentially affected the growth of BE cell lines in 3D culture. Notably, the non-dyplastic metaplasia-derived cell line (CP-A) expressed reduced squamous cytokeratins and enhanced columnar cytokeratins upon ATRA treatment. ATRA altered the EPC2 squamous cytokeratin profile towards a more columnar expression pattern. Cell lines derived from patients with high-grade dysplasia already expressed columnar cytokeratins and therefore did not show a systematic shift toward a more columnar phenotype with ATRA treatment. ATRA treatment, however, did reduce the squamoid-like multilayer stratification observed in all cell lines. As the first study to demonstrate long-term 3D growth of BE cell lines, we have determined that BE cells can be cultured for at least 3 weeks on a fibroblast/collagen matrix and that the use of ATRA causes a general reduction in squamous-like multilayered growth and an increase in columnar phenotype with the specific effects cell-line dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2654-2659
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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