An Intestinal Gut Organ Culture System for Analyzing Host-Microbiota Interactions

Shalhevet Azriel, Hadar Bootz, Alon Shemesh, Sivan Amidror, Nissan Yissachar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The structure of the gut tissue facilitates close and mutualistic interactions between the host and the gut microbiota. These cross-talks are crucial for maintaining local and systemic homeostasis; changes to gut microbiota composition (dysbiosis) associate with a wide array of human diseases. Methods for dissecting host-microbiota interactions encompass an inherent tradeoff among preservation of physiological tissue structure (when using in vivo animal models) and the level of control over the experiment factors (as in simple in vitro cell culture systems). To address this tradeoff, Yissachar et al. recently developed an intestinal organ culture system. The system preserves a naive colon tissue construction and cellular mechanisms and it also permits tight experimental control, facilitating experimentations that cannot be readily performed in vivo. It is optimal for dissecting short-term responses of various gut components (such as epithelial, immunological and neuronal elements) to luminal perturbations (including anaerobic or aerobic microbes, whole microbiota samples from mice or humans, drugs and metabolites). Here, we present a detailed description of an optimized protocol for organ culture of multiple gut fragments using a custom-made gut culture device. Host responses to luminal perturbations can be visualized by immunofluorescence staining of tissue sections or whole-mount tissue fragments, fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH), or time-lapse imaging. This system supports a wide array of readouts, including next-generation sequencing, flow cytometry, and various cellular and biochemical assays. Overall, this three-dimensional organ culture system supports the culture of large, intact intestinal tissues and has broad applications for high-resolution analysis and visualization of host-microbiota interactions in the local gut environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62779
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number172
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank past and present members of the Yissachar lab for their valuable contributions in optimizing the gut organ culture system protocol. We thank Yael Laure for critical editing of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 3114831), the Israel Science Foundation - Broad Institute Joint Program (grant No. 8165162), and the Gassner Fund for Medical Research, Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, JoVE Journal of Visualized Experiments.


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