, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 903-913

A microfluidic cell culture platform for real-time cellular imaging

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Abstract

This study reports a new microfluidic cell culture platform for real-time, in vitro microscopic observation and evaluation of cellular functions. Microheaters, a micro temperature sensor, and micropumps are integrated into the system to achieve a self-contained, perfusion-based, cell culture microenvironment. The key feature of the platform includes a unique, ultra-thin, culture chamber with a depth of 180 μm, allowing for real-time, high-resolution cellular imaging by combining bright field and fluorescent optics to visualize nanoparticle-cell/organelle interactions. The cell plating, culturing, harvesting and replenishing processes are performed automatically. The developed platform also enables drug screening and real-time, in situ investigation of the cellular and sub-cellular delivery process of nano vectors. The mitotic activity and the interaction between cells and the nano drug carriers (conjugated quantum dots-epirubicin) are successfully monitored in this device. This developed system could be a promising platform for a wide variety of applications such as high-throughput, cell-based studies and as a diagnostic cellular imaging system.