Pumpless microfluidic devices for generating healthy and diseased endothelia†
We have developed a pumpless cell culture chip that can recirculate small amounts of cell culture medium (400 μL) in a unidirectional flow pattern. When operated with the accompanying custom rotating platform, the device produces an average wall shear stress of up to 0.588 Pa ± 0.006 Pa without the use of a pump. It can be used to culture cells that are sensitive to the direction of flow-induced mechanical shear such as human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in a format that allows for large-scale parallel screening of drugs. Using the device we demonstrate that HUVECs produce pro-inflammatory indicators (interleukin 6, interleukin 8) under both unidirectional and bidirectional flow conditions, but that the secretion was significantly lower under unidirectional flow. Our results show that pumpless devices can simulate the endothelium under healthy and activated conditions. The developed devices can be integrated with pumpless tissues-on-chips, allowing for the addition of barrier tissues such as endothelial linings.