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An Air-Liquid Interface Model System Based on ThinCert®

An air-liquid interface (ALI) model system based on ThinCert® — the advantages for studying viral infection. ThinCert®, a two-compartment system, can be readily used to prepare a cell model to mimic respiratory epithelia including an air-liquid interface for studies on virus infection. It can also be used to mimic a range of other in vivo situations including cell migration, interactions, lumen-lumen transport, and prepare models of vascularized tumors. 


The membrane of ThinCert® enables the two compartments to communicate and functions as a matrix for cell adhesion and growth.


How to use ThinCert® to mimic the air-liquid interface involved in coronavirus infection

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for realistic cell models that are sufficiently realistic to generate the data needed in the fight against respiratory infections. Refinements to these cell models include a transition from simple single-layer cultures to differentiated, organotypic airway models with an air-liquid interface (ALI).

In the previous article, we looked at how researchers had refined a cell model to study coronavirus infection and replication based on human respiratory epithelial cells (HREC) by growing the cells in the ThinCert® system (1). This enabled them to readily generate an air-liquid interface that increased the expression of cell-surface angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which functions as a receptor for a coronavirus, HCoV-NL63, resulting in increased virus susceptibility and replication efficiency.

ThinCert® is a two-compartment system based on a porous PET membrane with pore sizes ranging from 0.4 to 8 µm and different pore densities. Depending on the pore density, the membrane is transparent or translucent. The membrane enables the two compartments to communicate and functions as a matrix for cell adhesion and growth.

This approach enabled the researchers to generate a proxy of the respiratory epithelium’s composition, structure, and functionality together with an air-liquid interface relatively easily. The result was a model system using a coronavirus with low pathogenicity that could be used to study the mechanisms of infection in in vivo-like situations and under Biosafety Level-2 (BSL-2) conditions.


A versatile solution for cell-based assays and tissue culture

This is one example of the many applications of ThinCert®. The two-compartment system can be used to mimic a range of in vivo situations, including:

  • migration and relocation of cells,
  • interaction and communication of physically separated cell populations,
  • generating vascularized patient-derived tumoroids (PDT; tumor-like organoid),
  • formation of tight cell-cell junctions, and,
  • vectorial transport between two lumens.

3D_ThinCert Covid_Decision_klein

 You can find out more about how ThinCert® can help you in your research here.


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[1] Castillo G, Mora-Díaz JC, Nelli RK, Giménez-Lirola LG. Human Air-Liquid-Interface Organotypic Airway Cultures Express Significantly More ACE2 Receptor Protein and Are More Susceptible to HCoV-NL63 Infection than Monolayer Cultures of Primary Respiratory Epithelial Cells. Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Aug 31;10(4):e0163922. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01639-22. Epub 2022 Jul 12. PMID: 35863002; PMCID: PMC9431431.
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