Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 367, Issue 3, pp 511–524 | Cite as

Human lung ex vivo infection models

  • Andreas C. Hocke
  • Norbert Suttorp
  • Stefan HippenstielEmail author


Pneumonia is counted among the leading causes of death worldwide. Viruses, bacteria and pathogen-related molecules interact with cells present in the human alveolus by numerous, yet poorly understood ways. Traditional cell culture models little reflect the cellular composition, matrix complexity and three-dimensional architecture of the human lung. Integrative animal models suffer from species differences, which are of particular importance for the investigation of zoonotic lung diseases. The use of cultured ex vivo infected human lung tissue may overcome some of these limitations and complement traditional models. The present review gives an overview of common bacterial lung infections, such as pneumococcal infection and of widely neglected pathogens modeled in ex vivo infected lung tissue. The role of ex vivo infected lung tissue for the investigation of emerging viral zoonosis including influenza A virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus is discussed. Finally, further directions for the elaboration of such models are revealed. Overall, the introduced models represent meaningful and robust methods to investigate principles of pathogen-host interaction in original human lung tissue.


Pneumonia Human lung Bacteria Virus Immunity 


Acknowledgments and funding information

This work is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG; SFB-TR84, project B6, Z1a, to A.C.H., project B1 to N.S and project B6 to S.H.) and DFG-SFB-TR84 project TF1 to A.C.H and S.H. We thank all the organ material donors and the clinical partners for their generous support in making human-material-based research possible. The authors are grateful to the current and former members of our laboratory for their contributions and apologize to those authors whose relevant contributions could not be cited because of space limitations.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas C. Hocke
    • 1
  • Norbert Suttorp
    • 1
  • Stefan Hippenstiel
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary MedicineCharité—Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany

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