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Your Environment. Your Health.

3D Cell Culture Provides Model to Study Toxicant Effects on Endocervix

Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
NIEHS Grant UH2ES022920

An NIEHS grantee and colleagues are pioneering a method for growing endocervical tissue on scaffolds, creating a 3D tissue model that can function and interact normally with hormones and other organs. The new model will allow the study of infection and fertility within endocervix tissue in a more physiological way, including how toxicants, drugs, vaccines, and pathogens affect this tissue.

The endocervix tissue lines the cervical canal between the uterus and the vagina, helping to regulate the delicate balance between the tolerance necessary for conception and the protection necessary to keep out pathogens. To create a functional 3D endocervix tissue culture, the researchers grew human endocervical cells on highly porous polystyrene scaffolds. They used a mixed population of cells that included epithelial and stromal cells.

The researchers assessed how the cultured cells responded to fluctuating levels of the reproductive hormones estradiol and progesterone that mimicked a 28-day menstrual cycle. The cells appeared to function similarly to normal female reproductive organs in that they expressed estrogen and progesterone receptors, proliferated, responded to hormones, produced mucus, and secreted cytokines and growth factors.

Citation: Arslan SY, Yu Y, Burdette JE, Pavone ME, Hope TJ, Woodruff TK, Kim JJ. 2015. Novel three dimensional human endocervix cultures respond to 28-day hormone treatment. Endocrinology 156(4):1602-1609.