A multi-chamber microfluidic intestinal barrier model using Caco-2 cells for drug transport studies

Hsih-Yin Tan, Sofie Trier, Ulrik L Rahbek, Martin Dufva*, Jörg Peter Kutter, Thomas Lars Andresen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    458 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper presents the design and fabrication of a multi-layer and multi-chamber microchip system using thiol-ene 'click chemistry' aimed for drug transport studies across tissue barrier models. The fabrication process enables rapid prototyping of multi-layer microfluidic chips using different thiol-ene polymer mixtures, where porous Teflon membranes for cell monolayer growth were incorporated by masked sandwiching thiol-ene-based fluid layers. Electrodes for trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurements were incorporated using low-melting soldering wires in combination with platinum wires, enabling parallel real-time monitoring of barrier integrity for the eight chambers. Additionally, the translucent porous Teflon membrane enabled optical monitoring of cell monolayers. The device was developed and tested with the Caco-2 intestinal model, and compared to the conventional Transwell system. Cell monolayer differentiation was assessed via in situ immunocytochemistry of tight junction and mucus proteins, P-glycoprotein 1 (P-gp) mediated efflux of Rhodamine 123, and brush border aminopeptidase activity. Monolayer tightness and relevance for drug delivery research was evaluated through permeability studies of mannitol, dextran and insulin, alone or in combination with the absorption enhancer tetradecylmaltoside (TDM). The thiol-ene-based microchip material and electrodes were highly compatible with cell growth. In fact, Caco-2 cells cultured in the device displayed differentiation, mucus production, directional transport and aminopeptidase activity within 9-10 days of cell culture, indicating robust barrier formation at a faster rate than in conventional Transwell models. The cell monolayer displayed high TEER and tightness towards hydrophilic compounds, whereas co-administration of an absorption enhancer elicited TEER-decrease and increased permeability similar to the Transwell cultures. The presented cell barrier microdevice constitutes a relevant tissue barrier model, enabling transport studies of drugs and chemicals under real-time optical and functional monitoring in eight parallel chambers, thereby increasing the throughput compared to previously reported microdevices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0197101
    JournalP L o S One
    Issue number5
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright: © 2018 Tan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    Cite this