BMC cell biology

Establishment and comparison of air-liquid interface culture systems for primary and immortalized swine tracheal epithelial cells.

PMID 29954317


Air-liquid interface (Ali) systems allow the establishment of a culture environment more representative of that in vivo than other culture systems. They are useful for performing mechanistic studies of respiratory epithelial cells as drug permeation barriers and can be used to study the interactions between hosts and respiratory pathogens. However, there have been few studies concerning Ali cultures of primary swine tracheal epithelial cells (STECs) and an immortalized STEC line, and the differences between these two systems remain poorly defined. In this study, we established Ali culture systems for primary STECs and for immortalized STEC line, and we systematically compared the differentiation capacities and immunological functions of these systems for the first time. Under Ali culture conditions, immortalized STEC line and primary STECs could survive for at least forty days, formed tight junctions and differentiated into stratified cells. They both possessed complete abilities to produce mucin and inflammatory cytokines and develop cilia. However, in contrast to primary STECs, which had a heterogeneous morphology, Ali-cultured immortalized STEC line appeared to be a homogenous population. The formation of tight junctions in Ali-cultured primary STECs was superior to that in immortalized STEC line. In addition, cilia in Ali-cultured immortalized STEC line were more pronounced, but their duration of expression was shorter than in primary STECs. Ali-cultured primary STECs and immortalized STEC line systems possessing complete abilities to undergo ciliary differentiation and inflammatory cytokine production were established for the first time in this study, and several differences in morphology and the formation of tight junctions and cilia were observed between these two systems. These two systems will be important tools for drug screening studies, as well as for detailed analyses of the interactions between hosts and respiratory pathogens.