The gut consists mainly of the intestine, which is made up of endothelial and epithelial cells as well as a host of microbiota. The complex microbiota of the gut has been shown to functionally contribute to multiple organs in recent research. It can even play roles in the pathology of a number of conditions and diseases. Also, drugs entering the digestive pathway are often metabolized by the gut and its diverse microbiota.
Animal models of the gut are difficult to compare to human data due to the differences in ecological characteristics. Since the immune system is also implicated with the gut, contrasts in these systems between animals and humans have made it challenging to extrapolate from gathered animal and in vitro data. Differences in drug metabolism in the gut have also contributed to differences in pre-clinical and clinical testing of therapeutic compounds.
Studying the unique intricacies of the gut require in vitro models that can simulate dynamic in vivo flow and house the diverse cellular systems that comprise the gut. The three-dimensional compatibility of microfluidic chips facilitates cells to recapitulate organ-like functions and provide physiologically-relevant data.