Establishment of a 3D multicellular placental microtissues for investigating the effect of antidepressant vortioxetine


Reproductive Toxicology, vol.123, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 123
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2023.108519
  • Journal Name: Reproductive Toxicology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chimica, Environment Index, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: 3D placental model, BeWo cells, HUVEC, Spheroid, Vortioxetine
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


The placenta is a unique organ with an active metabolism and dynamically changing physiology throughout pregnancy. It is difficult to elucidate the structure of cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions of the placenta in in vivo studies due to interspecies differences and ethical constraints. In this study, human umbilical cord vein cells (HUVEC) and human placental choriocarcinoma cells (BeWo) were co-cultured for the first time to form spheroids (microtissues) on a three-dimensional (3D) Petri Dish® mold and compared with a traditional two-dimensional (2D) system. Vortioxetine is an antidepressant with a lack of literature on its use in pregnancy in established cultures, the toxicity of vortioxetine was studied to investigate the response of spheroids representing placental tissue. Spheroids were characterised by morphology and exposed to vortioxetine. Cell viability and barrier integrity were then measured. Intercellular junctions and the localisation of serotonin transporter (SERT) proteins were demonstrated by immunofluorescence (IF) staining in BeWo cells. Human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG) hormone levels were also measured. In the 3D system, cell viability and hormone production were higher than in the 2D system. It was observed that the barrier structure was impaired, the structure of intracellular skeletal elements was altered and SERT expression decreased depending on vortioxetine exposure. These results demonstrate that the multicellular microtissue placenta model can be used to obtain results that more closely resemble in vivo toxicity studies of various xenobiotics than other 2D and mono-culture spheroid models in the literature. It also describes the use of 3D models for soft tissues other than the placenta.