Microfluidic Devices as In-Vitro Microenvironments for Stem Cell Culture

Amir Shamloo, Mohammad Abeddoust, and Nastaran Mehboudi


Microfluidic Device, Cell Chemotaxis, Matrix Porosity, Concentration Gradient, Nerve Growth Factor


Many potential therapies are currently being studied that may promote neural regeneration and guide regenerating axons to form correct connections following injury. It has been shown that adult neurons have some limited regenerative capabilities, and the lack of connection formation between neurons is not an intrinsic inability of these cells to form axons after being damaged, but rather the inhibitory microenvironment of the injured tissue prevents regeneration. In this study, the polarization and chemotaxis of neuronal stem cells (NSC) in response to quantified gradients of nerve growth factor (NGF) was examined. To accomplish this, a microfluidic device was designed and fabricated to generate stable concentration gradients of biomolecules in a cell culture chamber within a 3D microenvironment. Numerical simulation was implemented to optimize the device geometry for generating a uniform concentration gradient of NGF which was found to remain stable for multiple hours. NSCs migration was studied within this microfluidic device in response to NGF concentration and within a 3D environment of collagen matrix. This device is expected to have wide applicability in the study of shear-sensitive cells such as NSC and non-adherent cell types as well as in the study of migration through three dimensional matrices.

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