Newly-developed Organoid Mimics How Gut and Heart Tissues Arise Cooperatively From Stem Cells 

Microscopy image of the new type of organoid created by Todd McDevitt, Ana Silva, and their colleagues in which heart tissue (red, purple, and orange masses) and gut tissue (blue and green masses) are growing together. Captured by Ana Silva.
Microscopy image of the new type of organoid created by Todd McDevitt, Ana Silva, and their colleagues in which heart tissue (red, purple, and orange masses) and gut tissue (blue and green masses) are growing together. Captured by Ana Silva. Image courtesy of Gladstone Institutes.

Scientists at Gladstone Institutes have discovered how to grow a first-of-its-kind organoid—a three-dimensional, organ-like cluster of cells—that mimics how gut and heart tissues arise cooperatively from stem cells.  

The study was supported by a grant from CIRM and the Gladstone BioFulcrum Heart Failure Research Program. 

Gladstone Senior Investigator Todd McDevitt, PhD said this first-of-its-kind organoid could serve as a new tool for laboratory research and improve our understanding of how developing organs and tissues cooperate and instruct each other. 

McDevitt’s team creates heart organoids from human induced pluripotent stem cells, coaxing them into becoming heart cells by growing them in various cocktails of nutrients and other naturally occurring substances. In this case, the scientists tried a different cocktail to potentially allow a greater variety of heart cells to form. 

To their surprise, they found that the new cocktail led to organoids that contained not only heart, but also gut cells. 

“We were intrigued because organoids normally develop into a single type of tissue—for example, heart tissue only,” says Ana Silva, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in the McDevitt Lab and first author of the new study. “Here, we had both heart and gut tissues growing together in a controlled manner, much as they would in a normal embryo.” 

Shown here is the study’s first author, Ana Silva, a postdoctoral scholar in the McDevitt Lab. Image courtesy of Gladstone Institutes.

The researchers also found that compared to conventional heart organoids, the new organoids resulted in much more complex and mature heart structures—including some resembling more mature-like blood vessels. 

These organoids offer a promising new look into the relationship between developing tissues, which has so far relied on growing single-tissue organoids separately and then attempting to combine them. Not only that, the organoids could help clarify how the process of human development can go wrong and provide insight on congenital disorders like chronic atrial and intestinal dysrhythmias that are known to affect both heart and gut development. 

“Once it became clear that the presence of the gut tissue contributed to the maturity of the heart tissue, we realized we had arrived at something new and special,” says McDevitt. 

Read the official release about this study on Gladstone’s website

The study findings are published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

One thought on “Newly-developed Organoid Mimics How Gut and Heart Tissues Arise Cooperatively From Stem Cells 

  1. All cells produce different types of receptors to respond to different types of growth factor for growth, differentiation and behavior. Some cells produce high levels of specific receptors and tend to gain high affinity to respond to specify growth factor. The binding of cellular receptors to ligands elicit an important signaling network which is essentially for cell development and functioning. Stem cells require growth factors for growth and differentiation. Different types of growth factor can generate different types of cell and tissue development. Hence, different cocktail of nutrients and natural substance supported grow and differential of different cell types. Not all the cells are the same but the existence of some progenitors prosses high affinity receptors to other growth factor and develop other phenotype of cells. Evidence proved that cardiac progenitors had abilities to develop into liver cells. This may results the generation of organoid mimics gut and heart tissue. Of course, stem cells are moveable , they move and respond to growth factors for maturation of progenitors before developing into mature state of functioning cells. The maturation process of stem cells require many stages of progression before attaining into mature and functioning cells. Each stage of maturation, progenitors regulate gene expression and change their respond to specify growth factor for growth and differentiation. The omitting of one stage may result prematurely development of cells and tissue. Therefore, cell-based therapy by using Pluripotent Stem Cells technology requires extensive research investigation of growth factors requirement by stem cells to develop into mature and functioning cells . Thus, the safety and efficiency of therapeutic treatment must take account the longterm health and benefits of patients receiving new therapy.

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