LIEGE, Belgium—To determine intestinal absorption of drug candidates, researchers often rely on in vitro assays using Caco-2 cells. Unfortunately, there is some argument on whether the assay truly mimics in vivo behavior in the absence of mucin-generating cells.
To address this issue, researchers at the University of Liege and Catholic University of Louvain recently co-cultured Caco-2 cells with mucin-producing HT29-5M21 cells and monitored their behavior in serum-free medium. They described their work in BMC Cell Biology.
Based on the expression of genetic markers, the researchers determined that co-culturing the cells did not change the phenotype of the cells. Furthermore, they found that co-cultured cells showed increased paracellular permeability to small molecules that correlated with the proportion of HT29 cells over Caco-2 cells. The researchers plan to use the assay to model human diseases such as celiac disease, which involves altered permeability.