Cell patterning with a heptagon acoustic tweezer – application in neurite guidance
Accurate control over positioning of cells is a highly desirable feature in tissue engineering applications since it allows, for example, population of substrates in a controlled fashion, rather than relying on random seeding. Current methods to achieve a differential distribution of cells mostly use passive patterning methods to change chemical, mechanical or topographic properties of surfaces, making areas differentially permissive to the adhesion of cells. However, these methods have no ad hoc control over the actual deposition of cells. Direct patterning methods like bioprinting offer good control over cell position, but require sophisticated instrumentation and are often cost- and time-intensive. Here, we present a novel electronically controlled method of generating dynamic cell patterns by acoustic trapping of cells at a user-determined position, with a heptagonal acoustic tweezer device. We demonstrate the capability of the device to create complex patterns of cells using the device's ability to re-position acoustic traps by using a phase shift in the acoustic wave, and by switching the configuration of active piezoelectric transducers. Furthermore, we show that by arranging Schwann cells from neonatal rats in a linear pattern we are able to create Bands of Büngner-like structures on a non-structured surface and demonstrate that these features are able to guide neurite outgrowth from neonatal rat dorsal root ganglia.