Compartmentalized Microfluidics for In Vitro Alzheimer’s Disease Studies

  • Yufei Ren
  • Anja Kunze
  • Philippe Renaud
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 103)


Compartmentalized microfluidic devices are designed to engineer the cellular environment for cell cultures. The practical use of the compartmentalized chambers can be expanded to induce co-pathological cell cultures, where one cell population expresses a specific disease state, while being in direct-cell or metabolic contact to a second or third unaffected cell population. A typical example for co-pathological cell states in the brain is the well-known neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which still lacks effective treatment approaches. In the brain, AD shows specific disease progression patterns from one functional brain region to another. However, in normal dissociated neuron cultures using petri dishes, the extraction of the progression patterns is very difficult. In this chapter, we describe the methodology to design and fabricate a compartmentalized microfluidic device and apply it to an in vitro AD model to mimic the key pathological hallmarks of AD, allowing us to study disease progression patterns from a “diseased” towards a “healthy” cell population. This derived co-pathological model of AD provides the ability to monitor time-variant changes in cell network morphology and electrophysiology during disease progression and may potentially be used for pharmaceutical tests.

Key words

Alzheimer’s disease Co-pathology Disease progression Compartmentalized microfluidic device Micro-electrode arrays (MEAs) Neural cell culture 



This research was supported by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). We would like to thank Dr. Sophie Pautot for technical support on neural cultures. Thank Dr. Marc Olivier Heuschkel for sharing the knowledge and technology about microelectrode arrays (MEAs). We warmly acknowledge Prof. Patrick Fraering and his Ph.D. student Sébastien Mosser for providing us cell source and advices to improve our cell culture technologies. In the end, a special thanks goes to Dr. Shun-Ho Huang for our successful collaborations on several topics. We also thank Mr. Gabriel Safar for the help with the manuscript. Dr. Anja Kunze thanks the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for supporting her research under the grant P300P2_147753.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microsystems Laboratory (LMIS4), Institute of MicroengineeringEcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Di Carlo Laboratory, Department of BioengineeringUniversity of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)Los AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Microsystems Laboratory (LMIS4), Institute of MicroengineeringEcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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