Microdevice arrays of high aspect ratio poly(dimethylsiloxane) pillars for the investigation of multicellular tumour spheroid mechanical properties†
We report the design, fabrication and evaluation of an array of microdevices composed of high aspect ratio PDMS pillars, dedicated to the study of tumour spheroid mechanical properties. The principle of the microdevice is to confine a spheroid within a circle of micropillars acting as peripheral flexible force sensors. We present a technological process for fabricating high aspect ratio micropillars (300 μm high) with tunable feature dimensions (diameter and spacing) enabling production of flexible PDMS pillars with a height comparable to spheroid sizes. This represents an upscale of 10 along the vertical direction in comparison to more conventional PDMS pillar force sensors devoted to single cell studies, while maintaining their force sensitivity in the same order of magnitude. We present a method for keeping these very high aspect ratio PDMS pillars stable and straight in liquid solution. We demonstrate that microfabricated devices are biocompatible and adapted to long-term spheroid growth. Finally, we show that the spheroid interaction with the micropillars' surface is dependent on PDMS cellular adhesiveness. Time-lapse recordings of growth-induced micropillars' bending coupled with a software program to automatically detect and analyse micropillar displacements are presented. The use of these microdevices as force microsensors opens new prospects in the fields of tissue mechanics and pharmacological drug screening.