Maintaining stimulant waveforms in large-volume microfluidic cell chambers
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Stimulation of cells with temporal waveforms can be used to observe the frequency-dependent nature of cellular responses. The ability to produce and maintain the temporal waveforms in spite of the broadening processes that occur as the wave travels through the microfluidic system is critical for observing dynamic behaviors. Broadening of waves in microfluidic channels has been examined, but the effect that large-volume cell chambers have on the waves has not. In this report, a sinusoidal glucose wave delivered to a 1-mm diameter cell chamber using various microfluidic channel structures was simulated by finite element analysis with the goal of minimizing the broadening of the waveform in the chamber and maximizing the homogeneity of the concentration in the chamber at any given time. Simulation results indicated that increasing the flow rate was the most effective means to achieve these goals, but at a given volumetric flow rate, geometries that deliver the waveform to multiple regions in the chamber while maintaining a high linear velocity produced sufficient results. A 4-inlet geometry with a 220-μm channel width gave the best result in the simulation and was used to deliver glucose waveforms to a population of pancreatic islets of Langerhans. The result was a stronger and more robust synchronization of the islet population as compared with when a non-optimized chamber was used. This general strategy will be useful in other microfluidic systems examining the frequency-dependence nature of cellular behavior.
KeywordsDynamic stimulation Microfluidic perfusion Finite element analysis Broadening and delay Islets of Langerhans
This work was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01 DK080714). The authors thank Tuan Truong for help with isolating islets of Langerhans.
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