Newswise — Rockville, Md. (December 1, 2021)—Researchers at the University of Szeged in Hungary have demonstrated for the first time that an esophagus organoid successfully duplicates a vital function of that organ. The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology. It was chosen as an APSselect article for November.

Organoids are small 3D tissue constructs that self-organize into structures that mimic the functions of a particular organ. They express greater physiological complexity than traditional cell cultures.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 19,260 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2021. Though the five-year survival rates have been improving, the rate for even localized esophageal cancer remains below 50%. If the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body by the time of diagnosis, the rate drops to 5%.

The organoid studied by the Szeged team more fully recreates the ion transport systems of the esophagus. Ion transport in the esophagus is important for maintaining the pH and for the precise control of whether and which substances are able to cross the protective cell barrier.

Scientists have already established that ion transport disruption plays a roll in inflammatory and cancerous diseases of the esophagus. By confirming that this organoid models ion transport, the team confirmed it is a new promising “preclinical tool to assess the effectiveness of novel therapeutic compounds.”

“We conclude that [esophageal organoids] provide a relevant and suitable model system for studying the ion transport mechanisms of esophageal epithelial cells, and they can be also used as preclinical tools to assess the effectiveness of novel therapeutic compounds,” the authors wrote.

Read the full article, “Mouse organoid culture is a suitable model to study esophageal ion transport mechanisms,” published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology. It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom.

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.

Journal Link: American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, Oct-2021