The ex vivo colon organ culture and its use in antimicrobial host defense studies

S. M Nashir Udden, Sumyya Waliullah, Melanie Harris, Hasan Zaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The intestine displays an architecture of repetitive crypt structures consisting of different types of epithelial cells, lamina propia containing immune cells, and stroma. All of these heterogeneous cells contribute to intestinal homeostasis and participate in antimicrobial host defense. Therefore, identifying a surrogate model for studying immune response and antimicrobial activity of the intestine in an in vitro setting is extremely challenging. In vitro studies using immortalized intestinal epithelial cell lines or even primary crypt organoid culture do not represent the exact physiology of normal intestine and its microenvironment. Here, we discuss a method of culturing mouse colon tissue in a culture dish and how this ex vivo organ culture system can be implemented in studies related to antimicrobial host defense responses. In representative experiments, we showed that colons in organ culture express antimicrobial peptides in response to exogenous IL-1β and IL-18. Further, the antimicrobial effector molecules produced by the colon tissues in the organ culture efficiently kill Escherichia coli in vitro. This approach, therefore, can be utilized to dissect the role of pathogen- and danger-associated molecular patterns and their cellular receptors in regulating intestinal innate immune responses and antimicrobial host defense responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55347
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
StatePublished - Feb 13 2017


  • Antimicrobial host defense
  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Bacterial killing assay
  • Colon organ culture
  • E. coli
  • Ex vivo organ culture
  • Immunology
  • Inflammasomes
  • Intestine
  • Issue 120

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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