Systematic comparison of transcriptomes of Caco-2 cells cultured under different cellular and physiological conditions

Janneke Elzinga*, Menno Grouls, Guido J.E.J. Hooiveld, Meike van der Zande, Hauke Smidt, Hans Bouwmeester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is a need for standardized in vitro models emulating the functionalities of the human intestinal tract to study human intestinal health without the use of laboratory animals. The Caco-2 cell line is a well-accepted and highly characterized intestinal barrier model, which has been intensively used to study intestinal (drug) transport, host–microbe interactions and chemical or drug toxicity. This cell line has been cultured in different in vitro models, ranging from simple static to complex dynamic microfluidic models. We aimed to investigate the effect of these different in vitro experimental variables on gene expression. To this end, we systematically collected and extracted data from studies in which transcriptome analyses were performed on Caco-2 cells grown on permeable membranes. A collection of 13 studies comprising 100 samples revealed a weak association of experimental variables with overall as well as individual gene expression. This can be explained by the large heterogeneity in cell culture practice, or the lack of adequate reporting thereof, as suggested by our systematic analysis of experimental parameters not included in the main analysis. Given the rapidly increasing use of in vitro cell culture models, including more advanced (micro) fluidic models, our analysis reinforces the need for improved, standardized reporting protocols. Additionally, our systematic analysis serves as a template for future comparative studies on in vitro transcriptome and other experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737–753
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2023


  • 3R
  • Caco-2
  • Good in vitro method practices
  • Gut-on-a-chip
  • In vitro
  • Transcriptome


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