Measuring and regulating oxygen levels in microphysiological systems: design, material, and sensor considerations
As microfabrication techniques and tissue engineering methods improve, microphysiological systems (MPS) are being engineered that recapitulate complex physiological and pathophysiological states to supplement and challenge traditional animal models. Although MPS provide unique microenvironments that transcend common 2D cell culture, without proper regulation of oxygen content, MPS often fail to provide the biomimetic environment necessary to activate and investigate fundamental pathways of cellular metabolism and sub-cellular level. Oxygen exists in the human body in various concentrations and partial pressures; moreover, it fluctuates dramatically depending on fasting, exercise, and sleep patterns. Regulating oxygen content inside MPS necessitates a sensitive biological sensor to quantify oxygen content in real-time. Measuring oxygen in a microdevice is a non-trivial requirement for studies focused on understanding how oxygen impacts cellular processes, including angiogenesis and tumorigenesis. Quantifying oxygen inside a microdevice can be achieved via an array of technologies, with each method having benefits and limitations in terms of sensitivity, limits of detection, and invasiveness that must be considered and optimized. This article will review oxygen physiology in organ systems and offer comparisons of organ-specific MPS that do and do not consider oxygen microenvironments. Materials used in microphysiological models will also be analyzed in terms of their ability to control oxygen. Finally, oxygen sensor technologies are critically compared and evaluated for use in MPS.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Review Articles