The cells under in vivo condition undergo mechanical stimulation in terms of fluid-induced wall shear stress (WSS) and mechanical strain, which can affect the cell behaviour (e.g. proliferation, differentiation, migration and matrix production). To investigate the effect of mechanical stimulation on cellular behaviour, microfluidic technique is commonly used in cell culturing due to its high simplicity and reproducibility. To apply the WSS on cell, the microfluidic chip is commonly used. For example, the microfluidic chip in (a) has been designed and applied in the mechanobiological study of osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In this microfluidic chip, channel 2 contains mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are exposed to the fluid-induced WSS. To quantify the mechanical environment (i.e. WSS), we provide consulting service by in silico modelling and simulation. Consequently, the users can gain the precise information of the WSS on cells, facilitating to determine the applied loading conditions (e.g. flow rate).
In addition to the WSS, the cells also undergo mechanical strain in vivo. To investigate the mechanobiological response of cells under mechanical strain, different types of microfluidic device can used for generating tensile / compressive strain on the cells. For example, an in-house designed cell stretching device in (a) has been used for a number of mechanobiolgical studies, which include studies of human adipose stem cells (ASCs) and cardiomyocytes. One of the typical examples is R&D of this device and applying in the mechanobiological study of hASCs (a). Since the structure of the device (b) influence the resultant strain, we have not only provided consulting service of in silico simulation of this device (c), but also conducted the structure analysis using finite element method (FEM) for further optimisation of the device based on the customers’ specific need (d)
(a) Customer-designed microfluidic device in the application of cellular mechanobiology experiment (applying mechanical strain to cells), (b) structure of the device, (c) simulation of the device during cell stretching, (d) structure analysis based on FEM.