High-throughput dental biofilm growth analysis for multiparametric microenvironmental biochemical conditions using microfluidics†
Dental biofilm formation is not only a precursor to tooth decay, but also induces more serious systematic health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Understanding the conditions promoting colonization and subsequent biofilm development involving complex bacteria coaggregation is particularly important. In this paper, we report a high-throughput microfluidic ‘artificial teeth’ device offering controls of multiple microenvironmental factors (e.g. nutrients, growth factors, dissolved gases, and seeded cell populations) for quantitative characteristics of long-term dental bacteria growth and biofilm development. This ‘artificial teeth’ device contains multiple (up to 128) incubation chambers to perform parallel cultivation and analyses (e.g. biofilm thickness, viable-dead cell ratio, and spatial distribution of multiple bacterial species) of bacteria samples under a matrix of different combinations of microenvironmental factors, further revealing possible developmental mechanisms of dental biofilms. Specifically, we applied the ‘artificial teeth’ to investigate the growth of two key dental bacteria, Streptococci species and Fusobacterium nucleatum, in the biofilm under different dissolved gas conditions and sucrose concentrations. Together, this high-throughput microfluidic platform can provide extended applications for general biofilm research, including screening of the biofilm properties developing under combinations of specified growth parameters such as seeding bacteria populations, growth medium compositions, medium flow rates and dissolved gas levels.