Single cell migration profiling on a microenvironmentally tunable hydrogel microstructure device that enables stem cell potency evaluation†
Cell migration is a key function in a myriad of physiological events and disease conditions. Efficient, quick and descriptive profiling of migration behaviour in response to different treatments or conditions is highly desirable in a series of applications, ranging from fundamental studies of the migration mechanism to drug discovery and cell therapy. This investigation applied the use of methacrylamide gelatin (GelMA) to microfabricate migration lanes based on GelMA hydrogel with encapsulated migration stimuli and structural stability under culture medium conditions, providing the possibility of tailoring the microenvironment during cell-based assays. The actual device provides 3D topography, cell localization and a few step protocol, allowing the quick evaluation and quantification of individual migrated distances of a cell sample by an ImageJ plugin for automated microscopy processing. The detailed profiling of migration behaviour given by the new device has demonstrated a broader assay sensitivity compared to other migration assays and higher versatility to study cell migration in different settings of applications. In this study, parametric information extracted from the migration profiling was successfully used to develop predictive models of immunosuppressive cell function that could be applied as a potency test for mesenchymal stem cells.