Dax is an undergraduate researcher in the Wells lab studying the recapitulation of key functions of the bile duct via organ-on-a-chip technology. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Dax is a rising junior at Alabama State University. Post-graduation, Dax aims to gain a graduate degree in an engineering or mechanobiology discipline to further his goal of conducting biomedical research in industry. Outside of his research goals, he hopes to also do outreach work in Africa and start a mentoring program for the Black youth in his home city.
Studying Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis with a Vascular Biliary Model
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic liver disease in which inflammation and fibrosis lead to multi-focal biliary structures. PSC is commonly associated with damage to the barrier function of the epithelium. This project seeks to create an in vitro model of the vascular biliary system capable of replicating full barrier function of cellular monolayers. Cholangiocyte mice cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were isolated, injected, and cultured within a three-channel microfluidic device. The cells formed confluent monolayers over 5-6 d. After the formation of confluent monolayers, the cells were fixed, permeabilized, and blocked before the addition of antibodies and fluorescent stains. Immunofluorescence microscopy was performed on the monolayers to observe the expression of antibodies–higher levels of expression being attributed to proficient barrier function. We found that cholangiocytes and endothelial cells could be cultured within the same in vitro environment in the form of a microfluidic device, along with the cells forming confluent monolayers that displayed full barrier function. These findings allow for further research in the pathogenesis of PSC, where injection of immune cells and a toxin can replicate transmigration within this vascular system.