Supplementary Material for: Polarized Airway Epithelial Models for Immunological Co-Culture Studies

Epithelial cells line all cavities and surfaces throughout the body and play a substantial role in maintaining tissue homeostasis. Asthma and other atopic diseases are increasing worldwide and allergic disorders are hypothesized to be a consequence of a combination of dysregulation of the epithelial response towards environmental antigens and genetic susceptibility, resulting in inflammation and T cell-derived immune responses. In vivo animal models have long been used to study immune homeostasis of the airways but are limited by species restriction and lack of exposure to a natural environment of both potential allergens and microflora. Limitations of these models prompt a need to develop new human cell-based in vitro models. A variety of co-culture systems for modelling the respiratory epithelium exist and are available to the scientific community. The models have become increasingly sophisticated and specific care needs to be taken with regard to cell types, culture medium and culture models, depending on the aim of the study. Although great strides have been made, there is still a need for further optimization, and optimally also for standardization, in order for in vitro co-culture models to become powerful tools in the discovery of key molecules dictating immunity and/or tolerance, and for understanding the complex interplay that takes place between mucosa, airway epithelium and resident or infiltrating immune cells. This review focuses on current knowledge and the advantages and limitations of the different cell types and culture methods used in co-culture models of the human airways.