, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 65-71

Elucidating in vitro cell-cell interaction using a microfluidic coculture system

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This work presents a novel microfluidic coculture system that improves the accuracy of evaluating the interaction between cocultured cell types. A microfluidic coculture chip, fabricated by CO2 laser direct-writing on polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), was designed to separate two cell types using a microchannel, while permitting transfer of cellular media. The system has two up-stream wells and five down-stream wells. As an example, released inflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)), activated in up-stream macrophages, flow through a microfluidic mixing system, generating linear concentration gradients in down-stream wells and inducing down-stream osteoblasts to release prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a well-known bone resorption marker. Osteoblast viability was assessed by 3-[4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. This novel coculture system can be applied to evaluate cell-cell interaction while physically separating interacting cells.