, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 493-501
Date: 24 Feb 2011

“Artificial micro organs”—a microfluidic device for dielectrophoretic assembly of liver sinusoids

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In order to study possible toxic side effects of potential drug compounds in vitro a reliable test system is needed. Predicting liver toxicity presents a major challenge of particular importance as liver cells grown in a cell culture suffer from a rapid loss of their liver specific functions. Therefore we are developing a new microfluidic test system for liver toxicity. This test system is based on an organ-like liver 3D co-culture of hepatocytes and endothelial cells. We devised a microfluidic chip featuring cell culture chambers with integrated electrodes for the assembly of liver sinusoids by dielectrophoresis. Fluid channels enable an organ-like perfusion with culture media and test compounds. Different chamber designs were studied and optimized with regard to dielectrophoretic force distribution, hydrodynamic flow profile, and cell trapping rate using numeric simulations. Based on simulation results a microchip was injection-moulded from COP. This chip allowed the assembly of viable hepatocytes and endothelial cells in a sinusoid-like fashion.