Cell migration into scaffolds under co-culture conditions in a microfluidic platform†
Capillary morphogenesis is a complex cellular process that occurs in response to external stimuli. A number of assays have been used to study critical regulators of the process, but those assays are typically limited by the inability to control biochemical gradients and to obtain images on the single cell level. We have recently developed a new microfluidic platform that has the capability to control the biochemical and biomechanical forces within a three dimensional scaffold coupled with accessible image acquisition. Here, the developed platform is used to evaluate and quantify capillary growth and endothelial cell migration from an intact cell monolayer. We also evaluate the endothelial cell response when placed in co-culture with physiologically relevant cell types, including cancer cells and smooth muscle cells. This resulted in the following observations: cancer cells can either attract (MTLn3 cancer cell line) endothelial cells and induce capillary formation or have minimal effect (U87MG cancer cell line) while smooth muscle cells (10T 1/2) suppress endothelial activity. Results presented demonstrate the capabilities of this platform to study cellular morphogenesis both qualitatively and quantitatively while having the advantage of enhanced imaging and internal biological controls. Finally, the platform has numerous applications in the study of angiogenesis, or migration of other cell types including tumor cells, into a three-dimensional scaffold or across an endothelial layer under precisely controlled conditions of mechanical, biochemical and co-culture environments.