In Vitro Models for Studying Transport Across Epithelial Tissue Barriers

Navein Arumugasaamy, Javier Navarro, J. Kent Leach, Peter C.W. Kim, John P. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Epithelial barriers are the body’s natural defense system to regulating passage from one domain to another. In our efforts to understand what can and cannot cross these barriers, models have emerged as a reductionist approach to rigorously study and investigate this question. In particular, in vitro tissue models have become prominent as there is an increased exploration of understanding biological molecular transport. Herein, we introduce the pertinent physiology, then discuss recent studies and approaches for building models of five epithelial tissues: skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the blood–brain barrier, and the placenta. In particular, we evaluated literature from the past 5 years utilizing a tissue model to evaluate molecular transport. We then compare physiology of these tissues and discuss similarities in approaches, across tissues, to validate these models. We conclude with a summary of the approaches of growing interest across multiple tissues and an outlook on future steps to improve these models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Alveolar-capillary barrier
  • Blood–brain barrier
  • Epithelial
  • GI tract
  • In vitro model
  • Placental barrier
  • Skin
  • Tissue model
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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