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Organ-on-a-Chip systems for women's health applications

: Nawroth, Janna; Rogal, Julia; Weiss, Martin; Brucker, Sara Y.; Loskill, Peter


Advanced healthcare materials 7 (2018), Nr.2, Special Issue: Microphysiological Analytic Platforms (MAPs): Precision Organs on Chip, Art. 1700550
ISSN: 2192-2659
ISSN: 2192-2640
Fraunhofer IGB ()
hormones; microphysiological systems; organ-on-a-chip; sex differences; women's health

Biomedical research, for a long time, has paid little attention to the influence of sex in many areas of study, ranging from molecular and cellular biology to animal models and clinical studies on human subjects. Many studies solely rely on male cells/tissues/animals/humans, although there are profound differences in male and female physiology, which can significantly impact disease mechanisms, toxicity of compounds, and efficacy of pharmaceuticals. In vitro systems have been traditionally very limited in their capacity to recapitulate female-specific physiology and anatomy such as dynamic sex-hormone levels and the complex interdependencies of female reproductive tract organs. However, the advent of microphysiological organ-on-a-chip systems, which attempt to recreate the 3D structure and function of human organs, now gives researchers the opportunity to integrate cells and tissues from a variety of individuals. Moreover, adding a dynamic flow environment allows mimicking endocrine signaling during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, as well as providing a controlled microfluidic environment for pharmacokinetic modeling. This review gives an introduction into preclinical and clinical research on women's health and discusses where organ-on-a-chip systems are already utilized or have the potential to deliver new insights and enable entirely new types of studies.