This paper presents the design, fabrication and first results of a microfluidic cell trap device for analysis of apoptosis. The microfluidic silicon-glass chip enables the immobilization of cells and real-time monitoring of the apoptotic process. Induction of apoptosis, either electric field mediated or chemically induced with tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α), in combination with cycloheximide (CHX), was addressed. Exposure of cells to the appropriate fluorescent dyes, FLICA and PI, allows one to discriminate between viable, apoptotic and necrotic cells. The results showed that the onset of apoptosis and the transitions during the course of the cell death cascade were followed in chemically induced apoptotic HL60 cells. For the case of electric field mediated cell death, the distinction between apoptotic and necrotic stage was not clear. This paper presents the first results to analyse programmed cell death dynamics using this apoptosis chip and a first step towards an integrated apoptosis chip for high-throughput drug screening on a single cellular level.
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