The ability for cells to sense and respond to microenvironmental signals is influenced by their three dimensional (3D) surroundings, which includes the extracellular matrix (ECM). In the 3D environment, vascular structures supply cells with nutrients and oxygen thus affecting cell responses such as motility. Interpretation of cell motility studies though is often restricted by the applied approaches such as 2D conventional soft lithography methods that have rectangular channel cross-sectional morphology. To better simulate cell responses to vascular supply in 3D, we developed a cell on a chip system with microfluidic channels with curved cross-sections embedded within a 3D collagen matrix that emulates anatomical vasculature more closely than inorganic polymers, thus to mimic a more physiologically relevant 3D cellular environment. To accomplish this, we constructed perfusable microfluidic channels by embedding sacrificial circular gelatin vascular templates in collagen, which were removed through temperature control. Motile breast cancer cells were pre-seeded into the collagen matrix and when presented with a controlled chemical stimulation from the artificial vasculature, they migrated towards the vasculature structure. We believe this innovative vascular 3D ECM system can be used to provide novel insights into cellular dynamics during multidirectional chemokineses and chemotaxis that exist in cancer and other diseases.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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