Forskolin-induced swelling of intestinal organoids correlates with disease severity in adults with cystic fibrosis and homozygous F508del mutations

de Winter – de Groot, Karin M., Berkers, Gitte, Marck – van der Wilt, Rozemarijn E.P., van der Meer, Renske, Vonk, Annelotte, Dekkers, Johanna F., Geerdink, Margot, Michel, Sabine, Kruisselbrink, Evelien, Vries, Rob, Clevers, Hans, Vleggaar, Frank P., Elias, Sjoerd G., Heijerman, Harry G.M., van der Ent, Cornelis K. & Beekman, Jeffrey M.

Published: 01/01/2019


CFTR function measurements in intestinal organoids may help to better characterise individual disease expression in F508del homozygous people. Our objective was to study correlations between CFTR function as measured with forskolin-induced swelling in rectal organoids with clinical parameters in adult patients with homozygous F508del mutations.

Multicentre observational study. Thirty-four adults underwent rectal biopsy, pulmonary function tests (FEV1 and FVC), chest X-ray and chest CT. Body-mass index (BMI) was assessed at study visit and exacerbation rate was determined during five years prior to study visit. Organoids were cultured and measured after stimulation with 5 µm forskolin for three hours to quantitate CFTR residual function.

FIS was positively correlated with FEV1 (r = 0.36, 95% CI 0.02–0.62, p = 0.04) and BMI (r = 0.42, 95% CI 0.09–0.66, p = 0.015). FIS was negatively correlated with PRAGMA-CF CT score for% of disease (r = −0.37, 95% CI -0.62- -0.03, p = 0.049). We found no significant correlation between FIS and chest radiography score for CF (r = −0.16, 95% CI -0.48–0.20, p = 0.44). We observed a trend between higher FIS and a lower mean number of exacerbations over the last 5 years of observation, but this was not statistically significant (Poisson regression, p = 0.089).

FIS of intestinal organoids varied between subjects with homozygous F508del and correlated with pulmonary and nutritional parameters. These findings suggest that differences at low CFTR residual function may contribute to clinical heterogeneity in F508del homozygous patients and small changes in CFTR residual function might impact long-term disease expression.

Full Access Link: Journal of Cystic Fibrosis