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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011, Article ID 852419, 9 pages
Review Article

Epithelial Cell Coculture Models for Studying Infectious Diseases: Benefits and Limitations

1School of Medical Sciences and Griffith Health Institute, Centre for Medicine and Oral Health, Griffith University, Southport, QLD 4222, Australia
2School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, the University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia

Received 4 May 2011; Revised 19 July 2011; Accepted 27 July 2011

Academic Editor: Anthony L. DeVico

Copyright © 2011 Benjamin L. Duell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Countless in vitro cell culture models based on the use of epithelial cell types of single lineages have been characterized and have provided insight into the mechanisms of infection for various microbial pathogens. Diverse culture models based on disease-relevant mucosal epithelial cell types derived from gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and pulmonary organ systems have delineated many key host-pathogen interactions that underlie viral, parasitic, and bacterial disease pathogenesis. An alternative to single lineage epithelial cell monoculture, which offers more flexibility and can overcome some of the limitations of epithelial cell culture models based on only single cell types, is coculture of epithelial cells with other host cell types. Various coculture models have been described, which incorporate epithelial cell types in culture combination with a wide range of other cell types including neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes. This paper will summarize current models of epithelial cell coculture and will discuss the benefits and limitations of epithelial cell coculture for studying host-pathogen dynamics in infectious diseases.