Injection molded open microfluidic well plate inserts for user-friendly coculture and microscopy†
Open microfluidic cell culture systems are powerful tools for interrogating biological mechanisms. We have previously presented a microscale cell culture system, based on spontaneous capillary flow of biocompatible hydrogels, that is integrated into a standard cell culture well plate, with flexible cell compartment geometries and easy pipet access. Here, we present two new injection molded open microfluidic devices that also easily insert into standard cell culture well plates and standard culture workflows, allowing seamless adoption by biomedical researchers. These platforms allow culture and study of soluble factor communication among multiple cell types, and the microscale dimensions are well-suited for rare primary cells. Unique advances include optimized evaporation control within the well, manufacture with reproducible and cost-effective rapid injection molding, and compatibility with sample preparation workflows for high resolution microscopy (following well-established coverslip mounting procedures). In this work, we present several use cases that highlight the usability and widespread utility of our platform including culture of limited primary testis cells from surgical patients, microscopy readouts including immunocytochemistry and single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH), and coculture to study interactions between adipocytes and prostate cancer cells.