Microdroplet chain array for cell migration assays†
Establishing cell migration assays in multiple different microenvironments is important in the study of tissue repair and regeneration, cancer progression, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. In this work, we developed a miniaturized and massive parallel microfluidic platform for multiple cell migration assays combining the traditional membrane-based cell migration technique and the droplet-based microfluidic technique. Nanoliter-scale droplets are flexibly assembled as building blocks based on a porous membrane to form microdroplet chains with diverse configurations for different assay modes. Multiple operations including in-droplet 2D/3D cell culture, cell co-culture and cell migration induced by a chemoattractant concentration gradient in droplet chains could be flexibly performed with reagent consumption in the nanoliter range for each assay and an assay scale-up to 81 assays in parallel in one microchip. We have applied the present platform to multiple modes of cell migration assays including the accurate cell migration assay, competitive cell migration assay, biomimetic chemotaxis assay, and multifactor cell migration assay based on the organ-on-a-chip concept, for demonstrating its versatility, applicability, and potential in cell migration-related research.