Promising human intestinal organoids generated in laboratory

By Meritxell Huch –, CC BY 4.0,

It is currently within our ability to develop tiny organ-like tissues in the lab. Now, a new method discovered by Japanese scientists makes it possible to create intestinal mini-organs in the lab with more ease and efficiency. The potential for regenerative medicine are tremendous.

Researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) report in a work published in November in Cell Reports Methods that using just a few specialized laboratory procedures produces intestine-like tissues of expected size and composition.

Organoids are cell bodies that take on the characteristics of the organ from which they were derived by being cultured in a laboratory after beginning as spheroids. In addition to their potential application in regenerative medicine, organoids are put to use in the research of organ function.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used to create human intestine organoids (HIOs), as stated by the study’s first author, Junichi Takahashi. However, implementing these methods can be difficult. Because of the limitations imposed by the growing environment, the resulting spheroids tend to be irregular in shape and poor in health.

Researchers investigated using cell culture plates created with an ultra-low attachment polymer to promote cell detachment and growth in suspension, with the goal of developing a more robust and consistent method of generating HIOs. They also examined what would happen if the spheroids were grown in a bioreactor, a type of incubator with a continuous flow of growth media.

According to Tomohiro Mizutani, the study’s corresponding author, using their approach, they were able to create spheroids of a predictable, constant size that could be adjusted by varying the amount of cells put onto the plates.  Also, moving the spheroids to a bioreactor allowed them to expand into robust HIOs.

Mesenchyme, a kind of tissue typically located between organs, enveloped these organoids. Even after being transplanted into mice, the organoids continued to grow and differentiate, eventually taking on a complex tissue architecture similar to that of adult intestine.

By producing spheroids in suspension and maturing them in a bioreactor, the results demonstrate that intestinal tissue may be created from iPSC-derived HIOs.

This new method might be readily extended to make more complicated organoids, such as intestine-like tissue with blood arteries or nerves, given that more sophisticated intestinal tissues have been made using conventional methods. The potential uses of these tissue cultures in regenerative medicine seem promising.


Junichi Takahashi et al. (2022). Suspension culture in a rotating bioreactor for efficient generation of human intestinal organoids, Cell Reports MethodsDOI: 10.1016/j.crmeth.2022.100337