Macroporous silicon chips for laterally resolved, multi-parametric analysis of epithelial barrier function†
This study describes a novel assay to visualize the macromolecular permeability of epithelial and endothelial cell layers with subcellular lateral resolution. Defects within the cell layer and details about the permeation route of the migrating solute are revealed. The assay is based on silicon chips with densely packed, highly ordered, dead-ended pores of μm-diameters on one side. The cells under study are grown on the porous side of the chip such that the pores in the growth surface serve as an array of femtolitre-sized cuvettes in which the permeating probe accumulates at the site of permeation. The pattern of pore filling reveals the permeability characteristics of the cell layer with a lateral resolution in the μm range. Coating of the chip surface with a thin layer of gold allows for impedance analysis of the adherent cells in order to measure their tightness for inorganic ions at the same time. The new assay provides an unprecedented look on epithelial and endothelial barrier function.