Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) accounts for ~60% of all preterm births (15 million PTBs/year and 1 million neonatal deaths around the globe). Balanced immune homeostasis by fetal and maternal compartments ensure pregnancy maintenance and feto-placental growth. Premature disruption of immune homeostasis and overwhelming host inflammatory response due to infectious or other non-infectious risk factors lead to majority of PTBs. PTB rate has not declined in the past several decades, and current PTB prevention strategies do not address fetal immune responses, a key mediator that triggers preterm labor. The proposing team has recently used an innovative technology to engineer exosomes to be enriched with an inhibitor to NF-?B, termed as super repressor I?B? [SR]. Pilot studies using a transgenic mouse model showed successful delay in PTB without any side effects that was associated with reduction in inflammation at the feto-maternal interface tissues (F-M; fetal membrane cells and maternal decidua). However, moving this to the next stage is challenging, as a very large number of non-human primates, the animal model that most closely resemble the human F-M interface, will be needed, which is cost prohibitive. An organ-on-chip (OOC) model that faithfully represents the structure, functions, and responses of human F-M interface can overcome such challenges. The proposing team has recently reported the first F-M interface OOC model, which was successfully utilized to show the interactive and transitional properties of primary cells, resembling their biological functions in utero. In the UG3 phase, this model will be expanded to include the full F-M interface, recreate a healthy and disease inflammatory state, and fully validated for their cellular functions and responses predisposing to PTB. The UG3 aims are:
Aim 1 To validate the F-M interface OOC model;
Aim 2 To establish disease F-M interface OOC models. The UH3 aims are:
Aim 3 To test extracellular vesicle (EV)-encoded experimental drug NF-kB repressor (SR) on normal and disease F-M interface OOC models;
Aim 4 Conduct pre-clinical trial using the OOC model to investigate the impact of racial diversity and gender of fetus on the efficacy of the experimental drug. The success of the proposed research will produce a personalized F-M interface OOC model that can mimic either healthy or disease state of pregnancy, which can be used to test the effect of candidate therapeutic molecules to expedite processes towards clinical trials and or eliminate/minimize certain steps from expensive clinical trials.

Public Health Relevance

S Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB<37 weeks of gestation) is a major pregnancy complication, and infectious or non-infectious inflammation contribute to over 70% of all PTB and neonatal morbidities. Here we propose to develop, validate, and utilize a disease model of PTB by recreating feto-maternal (F-M) uterine tissues on an organ-on-chip (OOC) device, to test the efficacy of an anti-inflammatory drug delivered via extracellular vesicles in reducing PTB risk by diminishing inflammation. The F-M interface OOC model will recapitulate both the fetal and maternal side of the F-M interface in terms of their structure and functions, the fetal and/or maternal side inflammation models faithfully represent the propagation of inflammation predisposing to PTB, and be used to test whether potential therapeutic molecules suppress inflammation in each layer of the F-M interface.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZTR1)
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Rudnicki, Dobrila Doda
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Texas Engineering Experiment Station
Engineering (All Types)
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
College Station
United States
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