Testing of drugs using human feto-maternal interface organ-on-chips provide insights into pharmacokinetics and efficacy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives: To improve preclinical drug testing during pregnancy, we developed multiple microfluidic organ-on-chip (OOC) devices that represent the structure, functions, and responses of the two feto-maternal interfaces (FMis) in humans (fetal membrane [FMi-OOC] and placenta [PLA-OOC]). This study utilized feto-maternal interface OOCs to test the kinetics and efficacy of drugs during pregnancy. Study design: The FMi-OOC contained amnion epithelial, mesenchymal, chorion trophoblast, and decidual cells. The PLA-OOC contained cytotrophoblasts (BeWo), syncytiotrophoblasts (BeWo + forskolin), and human umbilical vein endothelial cell lines. Therapeutic concentrations of either pravastatin or rosuvastatin (200 ng mL-1), a model drug for these experiments, were applied to either decidua (in FMi-OOC) and syncytiotrophoblasts (in PLA-OOC) chambers under normal and oxidative stress conditions (induced by cigarette smoke extract [CSE 1:25]) to evaluate maternal drug exposure during normal pregnancy or oxidative stress (OS) associated pathologies, respectively. We determined statin pharmacokinetics and metabolism (LC-MS/MS), drug-induced cytotoxicity (LDH assay), and efficacy to reduce OS-induced inflammation (multiplex cytokine assay). Results: Both OOCs mimicked two distinct human feto-maternal interfaces. The drugs tested permeated the maternal-fetal cell layers of the FMi-OOC and PLA-OOC within 4 hours and generated cell and time-specific statin metabolites from various cell types without causing any cytotoxicity. OS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines were effectively reduced by statins by increasing anti-inflammatory cytokine response across the FMi-OOC and PLA-OOC. Conclusion: Two distinct feto-maternal interface OOCs were developed, tested, and validated for their utility to conduct preclinical trials during pregnancy. We demonstrated that the placenta and fetal membranes-decidual interface both are able to transport and metabolize drugs and that the safety and efficacy of a drug can be determined using the anatomical structures recreated on OOCs.

published proceedings

  • Lab Chip

author list (cited authors)

  • Richardson, L. S., K Kammala, A., Costantine, M. M., Fortunato, S. J., Radnaa, E., Kim, S., ... Menon, R.

complete list of authors

  • Richardson, Lauren S||K Kammala, Ananth||Costantine, Maged M||Fortunato, Stephen J||Radnaa, Enkhtuya||Kim, Sungjin||Taylor, Robert N||Han, Arum||Menon, Ramkumar

publication date

  • November 2022