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  1. Human liver models that are three-dimensional (3D) in architecture are indispensable for compound metabolism/toxicity screening, to model liver diseases for drug discovery, and for cell-based therapies; however, further development of such models is needed to maintain high levels of primary human hepatocyte (PHH) functions for weeks to months. Therefore, here we determined how microscale 3D collagen I presentation and fibroblast interaction affect the longevity of PHHs. High-throughput droplet microfluidics was utilized to generate reproducibly sized (∼300-μm diameter) microtissues containing PHHs encapsulated in collagen I ± supportive fibroblasts, namely, 3T3-J2 murine embryonic fibroblasts or primary human hepatic stellate cells (HSCs); self-assembled spheroids and bulk collagen gels (macrogels) containing PHHs served as controls. Hepatic functions and gene expression were subsequently measured for up to 6 weeks. We found that microtissues placed within multiwell plates rescued PHH functions at 2- to 30-fold higher levels than spheroids or macrogels. Further coating of PHH microtissues with 3T3-J2s led to higher hepatic functions than when the two cell types were either coencapsulated together or when HSCs were used for the coating instead. Importantly, the 3T3-J2-coated PHH microtissues displayed 6+ weeks of relatively stable hepatic gene expression and function at levels similar to freshly thawed PHHs. Lastly, microtissues responded in a clinically relevant manner to drug-mediated cytochrome P450 induction or hepatotoxicity. In conclusion, fibroblast-coated collagen microtissues containing PHHs display high hepatic functions for 6+ weeks and are useful for assessing drug-mediated CYP induction and hepatotoxicity. Ultimately, microtissues may find utility for modeling liver diseases and as building blocks for cell-based therapies. 
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  2. A critical role of vascular endothelium is as a semi-permeable barrier, dynamically regulating the flux of solutes between blood and the surrounding tissue. Existing platforms that quantify endothelial function in vitro are either significantly throughput limited or overlook physiologically relevant extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and thus do not recapitulate in vivo function. Leveraging droplet microfluidics, we developed a scalable platform to measure endothelial function in nanoliter-volume, ECM-based microtissues. In this study, we describe our high-throughput method for fabricating endothelial-coated collagen microtissues that incorporate physiologically relevant cell–ECM interactions. We showed that the endothelial cells had characteristic morphology, expressed tight junction proteins, and remodeled the ECM via compaction and deposition of basement membrane. We also measured macromolecular permeability using two optical modalities, and found the cell layers: (1) had permeability values comparable to in vivo measurements and (2) were responsive to physiologically-relevant modulators of endothelial permeability (TNF-α and TGF-β). This is the first demonstration, to the authors’ knowledge, of high-throughput assessment ( n > 150) of endothelial permeability on natural ECM. Additionally, this technology is compatible with standard cell culture equipment ( e.g. multi-well plates) and could be scaled up further to be integrated with automated liquid handling systems and automated imaging platforms. Overall, this platform recapitulates the functions of traditional transwell inserts, but extends application to high-throughput studies and introduces new possibilities for interrogating cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions. 
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