3D host cell and pathogen-based bioassay development for testing anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug response and modeling immunodeficiency

Shilpaa Mukundan, Rachana Bhatt, John Lucas, Matthew Tereyek, Theresa L. Chang, Selvakumar Subbian, Biju Parekkadan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Tuberculosis (TB) is a global health threat that affects 10 million people worldwide. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) remains one of the major contributors to the reactivation of asymptomatic latent tuberculosis (LTBI). Over the recent years, there has been a significant focus in developing in-vitro 3D models mimicking early events of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) pathogenesis, especially formation of the granuloma. However, these models are low throughput and require extracellular matrix. In this article, we report the generation of a matrix-free 3D model, using THP-1 human monocyte/macrophage cells and mCherry-expressing Mycobacterium bovis BCG (Bacilli Camille Guérin), henceforth referred as 3D spheroids, to study the host cell-bacterial interactions. Using mCherry-intensity-based tracking, we monitored the kinetics of BCG growth in the 3D spheroids. We also demonstrate the application of the 3D spheroids for testing anti-TB compounds such as isoniazid (INH), rifampicin (RIF), as well as a host-directed drug, everolimus (EVR) as single and combinational treatments. We further established a dual infection 3D spheroid model by coinfecting THP-1 macrophages with BCG mCherry and pseudotype HIV. In this HIV-TB co-infection model, we found an increase in BCG mCherry growth within the 3D spheroids infected with HIV pseudotype. The degree of disruption of the granuloma was proportional to the virus titers used for co-infection. In summary, this 3D spheroid assay is an useful tool to screen anti-TB response of potential candidate drugs and can be adopted to model HIV-TB interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalBiomolecular Concepts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • Bioassay
  • Drug response
  • HIV-TB co-infection
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Tuberculosis
  • anti-tuberculosis drugs
  • granuloma


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