Cell-based microfluidic device for screening anti-proliferative activity of drugs in vascular smooth muscle cells
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This paper presents a microfluidic device consisting of five parallel microchambers with integrated readout-grid for the screening of anti-proliferative activity of drugs in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). A two-level SU-8 master was fabricated and replicated with poly(dimethylsiloxane), PDMS, using standard soft-lithographic methods. The relative small height (4–10 μm) of the integrated grid allowed the identification of single-cells or cell groups and the monitoring of their motility, morphology and size with time, without disturbing their proliferation pattern. This is of particular interest when considering VSMC which, apart of being crucial in the atherosclerotic process, do not proliferate in a single layer but in a non-homogenous hill and valley phenotype. The performance of the microfluidic device has been validated by comparison with conventional culturing methods, proving that the cell proliferation remains unaffected by the microchamber structure (with the integrated grid) and the experimental conditions. Finally, the microfluidic device was also used to evaluate the anti-proliferative activity of curcumin and colchicine in VSMC. With this cellular type, the anti-proliferative activity of curcumin (IC50 = 35 ± 5 μM) was found to be much lower than colchicine (IC50 = 3.2 ± 1.2 μM). These results demonstrate the good performance of the microfluidic device in the evaluation of the anti-proliferative activity (or cytotoxicity) of drugs.