Video Abstract (AI generated) (01:28)PaperPreprint
Lymphoid follicles (LFs) are responsible for generation of adaptive immune responses in secondary lymphoid organs and form ectopically during chronic inflammation. A human model of LF formation would provide a tool to understand LF development and an alternative to non-human primate models for preclinical evaluation of vaccines. Here, we show that primary human blood B- and T-lymphocytes autonomously assemble into ectopic LFs when cultured in a three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix gel within an organ-on-a-chip microfluidic device. Dynamic fluid flow is required for LF formation and prevention of lymphocyte autoactivation. These germinal center-like LFs contain B cells expressing Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase and exhibit plasma cell (PC) differentiation upon activation. To explore their utility for vaccine testing, autologous monocyte-derived dendritic cells were integrated into LF Chips. The human LF chips demonstrated improved antibody responses to split virion influenza vaccination compared to 2D cultures, which were enhanced by addition of a squalene-in-water emulsion adjuvant, and this was accompanied by increases in LF size and number. When inoculated with commercial influenza vaccine, PC formation and production of anti-hemagglutinin IgG were observed, as well as secretion of cytokines similar to those observed in vaccinated humans over clinically relevant timescales.