A Co-culture Method to Investigate the Crosstalk Between X-ray Irradiated Caco-2 Cells and PBMC

Gabriele Babini, Jacopo Morini, Sofia Barbieri, Giorgio Baiocco, Giovanni Battista Ivaldi, Marco Liotta, Paola Tabarelli de Fatis, Andrea Ottolenghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The protocol adopted in this work aims at unraveling how X-rays perturb the functioning of the intestinal barrier, focusing on the interplay between colorectal tumor cells and the immune system. Colorectal carcinoma is among the most common type of cancer, typically treated by surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Advantages of radiotherapy in targeting the tumor are well known. However, even limited exposures of healthy tissues are of great concern, particularly regarding the effects on the intestinal barrier and the immune system. The adopted setup allows to study the interplay between two cell populations in a condition more similar to the physiological one, when compared to normal cell cultures. For this purpose, we resort to different techniques and we used an in vitro co-culture model, based on Caco-2 cells differentiated as a monolayer and PBMC, sharing the same culture medium. This protocol has been developed to focus on both macroscopic effects, i.e. cell viability and Trans-Epithelial Electrical Resistance (TEER), and, through western blot, molecular alterations, i.e. the activation of inflammatory pathway in immune cells and the tight junction protein expression in Caco-2 cells. Initial evaluation of radiation effects on Caco-2 cell viability was assessed via the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and Trypan blue assays, while TEER was measured at fixed time intervals through an ohmmeter specifically designed for co-culture systems. In this way, the effects due to radiation, the presence of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC), and eventually their synergistic effect, can be demonstrated. Through these complementary techniques, we observed a high radio-resistance of Caco-2 within the range of 2 - 10 Gy of X-rays and an increased Caco-2 monolayer permeability when PBMCs were added. In particular, PBMC presence was found to be associated with the variation in the tight junction scaffold proteins expression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number131
Publication statusPublished - Jan 30 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'A Co-culture Method to Investigate the Crosstalk Between X-ray Irradiated Caco-2 Cells and PBMC'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this