Bioengineering human intestinal mucosal grafts using patient-derived organoids, fibroblasts and scaffolds


Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that combines stem cells and matrices to form functional constructs that can be used to repair damaged tissues or regenerate whole organs. Tissue stem cells can be expanded and functionally differentiated to form 'mini-organs' resembling native tissue architecture and function. The choice of the scaffold is also pivotal to successful tissue reconstruction. Scaffolds may be broadly classified into synthetic or biological depending upon the purpose of the engineered organ. Bioengineered intestinal grafts represent a potential source of transplantable tissue for patients with intestinal failure, a condition resulting from extensive anatomical and functional loss of small intestine and therefore digestive and absorptive capacity. Prior strategies in intestinal bioengineering have predominantly used either murine or pluripotent cells and synthetic or decellularized rodent scaffolds, thus limiting their translation. Microscale models of human intestinal epithelium on shaped hydrogels and synthetic scaffolds are more physiological, but their regenerative potential is limited by scale. Here we present a protocol for bioengineering human intestinal grafts using patient-derived materials in a bioreactor culture system. This includes the isolation, expansion and biobanking of patient-derived intestinal organoids and fibroblasts, the generation of decellularized human intestinal scaffolds from native human tissue and providing a system for recellularization to form transplantable grafts. The duration of this protocol is 12 weeks, and it can be completed by scientists with prior experience of organoid culture. The resulting engineered mucosal grafts comprise physiological intestinal epithelium, matrix and surrounding niche, offering a valuable tool for both regenerative medicine and the study of human gastrointestinal diseases.

Journal details

Volume 18
Issue number 1
Pages 108-135
Available online
Publication date