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Faster, Smaller, Cleaner: Customized microfluidic platforms for chemotaxis studies

Thursday, November 07, 2013 — Poster Session II

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center (Upper-Level Terrace)




  • J.S. Yoon
  • C.E. Petrie Aronin
  • T. Prustel
  • M. Meier-Schellersheim
  • R.N. Germain
  • N.Y. Morgan


In vitro studies with a definable cellular environment are valuable model systems used to understand how cellular properties and spatiotemporal variations in chemokine concentrations influence chemotaxis. Physiologically, cells experience local chemokine gradients and must migrate through the extracellular matrix, either by deforming to pass through confined spaces or by degrading the ECM to reach their target destination. We have been developing customized microfluidic platforms for studying chemotaxis, including an agarose device for 3D measurements with fast temporal gradient control, and a PDMS device with 2D confinement. Both are compatible with existing confocal and 2-photon instrumentation. The development of concentration gradients is characterized using a fluorescent tracer and confocal fluorescence microscopy. Post-processing is done using MATLAB and the resulting gradient datasets are compared to those generated using finite element modeling in COMSOL. We have applied the agarose device to investigate how gradients of soluble chemoattractants control the directed migration of key primary myeloid cell populations, specifically dendritic cells and neutrophils, in a controlled 3D environment. The results showed surprising qualitative differences in cellular behavior depending on the temporal stability of the gradient, which were only observable due to the temporal control of the gradient in this customized device.

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