Researchers in Germany have have grown the innermost layer of human fallopian tubes in a lab. The new technique is offering fresh insights into this essential component of the female reproductive system, while also hinting at potential new directions for the treatment of various reproductive disorders.
The fallopian tubes, or oviducts, play a crucial role in human reproduction, but they’re susceptible to infections and certain forms of cancer.
Ref: The Notch and Wnt pathways regulate stemness and differentiation in human fallopian tube organoids. Nature Communications (8 December 2015) | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9989.
The epithelial lining of the fallopian tube is of critical importance for human reproduction and has been implicated as a site of origin of high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Here we report on the establishment of long-term, stable 3D organoid cultures from human fallopian tubes, indicative of the presence of adult stem cells. We show that single epithelial stem cells in vitro can give rise to differentiated organoids containing ciliated and secretory cells. Continuous growth and differentiation of organoids depend on both Wnt and Notch paracrine signalling. Microarray analysis reveals that inhibition of Notch signalling causes downregulation of stem cell-associated genes in parallel with decreased proliferation and increased numbers of ciliated cells and that organoids also respond to oestradiol and progesterone treatment in a physiological manner. Thus, our organoid model provides a much-needed basis for future investigations of signalling routes involved in health and disease of the fallopian tube.