Various cell dynamics such as proliferation, differentiation, migration and extracellular matrix (ECM) production at the scale of a single cell to a cell population are affected by the microenvironment surrounding the cells, including the interactions between cells. When performing cell-based assays in vitro to elucidate these cell dynamics, it is necessary to accurately control the microenvironment surrounding the cells. However, with traditional cell culturing method it is difficult to apply the precise multiphysics environment to the cells. To address this challenge, microfluidics is a promising technology that has been commonly used in numerous studies.
In cell culturing, the microfluidic system, which can apply minute amounts of chemical stimulants is useful for dose-related response studies to test new compounds. The microfluidic system will generate a controllable concentration gradient of chemicals within micro-channels during cell culturing. For example, to investigate the influence of chemical environment on angiogenesis, an in-house designed microfluidic chip has been used to generate a concentration of soluble factors surrounding the endothelial cells (ECs) (a). Moreover, to identify the effect of individual parameters on the diffusion of soluble factors through the device, we also provide the consulting service by developing a multiphase and multiphysics in silico model. With our in silico model, numerous trial-and-error experiments can be avoided for finding the optimal conditions (e.g. applied flow rate and concentration of soluble factors) for angiogenesis.
(a) CAD design of the microfluidic chip, (b) for investigating chemical environment of ECs: simulated concentration of soluble factors after 24-hour cell culturing, (c) for investigating mechanical environment of MSCs: WSS distribution within the microfluidic channel and predicted cellular response.