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The process of granuloma formation is complex, and due to species differences, the validity of animal studies is somewhat questioned. Moreover, the large number of animals needed to observe the different stages of development also raises ethical questions. Therefore, researchers have explored the use of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), a heterogeneous population of immune cells, in an in vitro model. This review included in vitro studies that focused on exposing PBMCs-from healthy, sensitized, or diseased individuals-to antigens derived from infectious agents-such as mycobacteria or Schistosoma spp.-or inorganic antigens-such as beryllium. The reviewed studies mainly explored how human in vitro granuloma models can contribute towards understanding the pathogenesis of granulomatous diseases, especially during the early stages of granuloma formation. The feasibility of granuloma modelling was thus largely assessed via experimental techniques including (1) granuloma scoring indices (GI), (2) cell surface markers and (3) cytokine secretion profiling. While granuloma scoring showed some similarities between studies, a large variability of culture conditions and endpoints measured have been identified. The lack of any standardization currently impedes the success of a human in vitro granuloma model.


Nirosha Ganesan, Steven Ronsmans, Jeroen Vanoirbeek, Peter H M Hoet. Assessment of Experimental Techniques That Facilitate Human Granuloma Formation in an In Vitro System: A Systematic Review. Cells. 2022 Mar 02;11(5)

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PMID: 35269486

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