Microfluidic device to study cell transmigration under physiological shear stress conditions

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2011

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The development of new drug therapies relies on studies of cell transmigration in in vitro systems. Migration has traditionally been studied using two methods, the Boyden chamber and a shear flow chamber assay. Though, commonly applied in cell transmigration studies, they are far from imitating a natural migration process. Here we describe a novel in vitro cell transmigration microfluidic assay, which mimicks physiological shear flow conditions in blood vessels. The device was designed to incorporate the principles of both the Boyden chamber and the shear flow chamber assay, i.e. migration through the membrane under flow conditions. The 3D environment of migrating cells is imitated by injecting cell adhesion proteins to coat the membrane in the device. We tested the developed device with Jurkat cells migration towards medium supplemented with serum, and with chemokine induced lymphocytes migration. The applied continuous flow of cell suspension and chemoattractant ensures that the concentration gradient is maintained in time and space. The cell adhesion proteins used to enhance cell migration in the device were fibronectin and VCAM-1. We successfully observed a multistep transmigration process by means of the developed microfluidic migration assay. The presented device is inexpensive, easy to fabricate and disposable, having a potential to be applied in basic research as well as in the drug development process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomedical Microdevices
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)899-907
StatePublished - 2011
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 8


  • Shear stress, Lymphocytes, Cell migration, Microfluidic migration assay
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