Science Inventory

An improved multicellular human organoid model for the study of chemical effects on palatal fusion


Wolf, C., H. Ftizpatrick, C. Becker, J. Smith, AND C. Wood. An improved multicellular human organoid model for the study of chemical effects on palatal fusion. Birth Defects Research. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 115(16):1513-1533, (2023).


The contribution of teratogenic chemicals to cleft palate in humans is difficult to determine and has been limited to epidemiological studies, for which data is hard to obtain. Developing in vitro models using human stem cells allows us to study the contribution of chemicals on cleft palate in the human and allows more efficient testing of chemicals in medium throughput assays. The current study describes the improved organotypic model for human palate fusion and testing of the model with signaling pathway inhibitors.


Background:  Tissue fusion is a mechanism involved in the development of the heart, iris, genital tubercle, neural tube, and palate during embryogenesis. Failed fusion of the palatal shelves could result in cleft palate (CP), a common birth defect. Organotypic models constructed of human cells offer an opportunity to investigate developmental processes in the human. Previously, our laboratory developed an organoid model of the human palate that contains human mesenchyme and epithelial progenitor cells to study the effects of chemicals on fusion. Methods:  Here, we developed an organoid model more representative of the embryonic palate that includes three cell types: mesenchyme, endothelial, and epithelial cells. We measured fusion by a decrease in epithelial cells at the contact point between the organoids and compared the effects of CP teratogens on fusion and toxicity in the previous and current organoid models. We further tested additional suspect teratogens in our new model. Results:  We found that the three-cell-type model is more sensitive to fusion inhibition by valproic acid and inhibitors of FGF, BMP, and TGFβRI/II. In this new model, we tested other suspect CP teratogens and found that nocodazole, topiramate, and Y27632 inhibit fusion at concentrations that do not induce toxicity. Conclusion:  This sensitive human three-cell-type organotypic model accurately evaluates chemicals for cleft palate teratogenicity.

Record Details:

Product Published Date:10/01/2023
Record Last Revised:05/24/2024
OMB Category:Other
Record ID: 361546