The Department of Biomedicine

BBB Seminar: Daniela Elena Costea

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Epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in human oral mucosa:
Studies on in vitro 3D models

Daniela Elena Costea
Section for Pathology, The Gade Institute, University of Bergen

The in vitro 3D models mimic the in vivo, native architecture of tissues, with a network of different cell types spatially arranged as they are in the tissue of origin (e.g. for oral mucosa, oral epithelial cells, either normal, dysplastic or neoplastic are grown on top of a collagen I matrix populated with oral fibroblasts). Thus, these in vitro 3D models are also able to closely reconstitute the microenvironment and the interactions between cells of human origin, as they occur in vivo. Using these reproducible and highly standardised models, it has been shown that the tight mechanisms of control exerted by fibroblasts on epithelial cell proliferation, differentiation and cell death in normal oral mucosa, were gradually lost during progression from normal to early neoplastic (dysplastic) and late neoplastic oral epithelium. A particularly interesting finding was that local invasion of early oral neoplasia could be triggered by species-specific fibroblasts only. By generating various models in which early neoplastic (dysplastic) cells behaved either in a non-invasive or an invasive manner, one has been able to underpin the important role for basement membrane protein synthesis in the transition from non-invasive to invasive oral neoplasia. Further studies on investigating this transition are undergoing by taking advantage of the opportunity that the 3D cell culture system offers, that is to modulate each of its main compartments (the epithelial and the mesenchymal compartment respectively) by overexpressing or downregulating certain molecules of interest.

Host: Donald Gullberg, Department of Biomedicine