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Issue 2, 2010
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Macro- and microscale fluid flow systems for endothelial cell biology

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Recent advances in microfluidics have brought forth new tools for studying flow-induced effects on mammalian cells, with important applications in cardiovascular, bone and cancer biology. The plethora of microscale systems developed to date demonstrate the flexibility of microfluidic designs, and showcase advantages of the microscale that are simply not available at the macroscale. However, the majority of these systems will likely not achieve widespread use in the biological laboratory due to their complexity and lack of user-friendliness. To gain widespread acceptance in the biological research community, microfluidics engineers must understand the needs of cell biologists, while biologists must be made aware of available technology. This review provides a critical evaluation of cell culture flow (CCF) systems used to study the effects of mechanical forces on endothelial cells (ECs) in vitro. To help understand the need for various designs of CCF systems, we first briefly summarize main properties of ECs and their native environments. Basic principles of various macro- and microscale systems are described and evaluated. New opportunities are uncovered for developing technologies that have potential to both improve efficiency of experimentation as well as answer important biological questions that otherwise cannot be tackled with existing systems. Finally, we discuss some of the unresolved issues related to microfluidic cell culture, suggest possible avenues of investigation that could resolve these issues, and provide an outlook for the future of microfluidics in biological research.

Graphical abstract: Macro- and microscale fluid flow systems for endothelial cell biology

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Article information

07 Jul 2009
24 Aug 2009
First published
09 Oct 2009

Lab Chip, 2010,10, 143-160
Article type
Critical Review

Macro- and microscale fluid flow systems for endothelial cell biology

E. W. K. Young and C. A. Simmons, Lab Chip, 2010, 10, 143
DOI: 10.1039/B913390A

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