Low-cost microphysiological systems: feasibility study of a tape-based barrier-on-chip for small intestine modeling†
We see affordability as a key challenge in making organs-on-chips accessible to a wider range of users, particularly outside the highest-resource environments. Here, we present an approach to barrier-on-a-chip fabrication based on double-sided pressure-sensitive adhesive tape and off-the-shelf polycarbonate. Besides a low materials cost, common also to PDMS or thermoplastics, it requires minimal (€100) investment in laboratory equipment, yet at the same time is suitable for upscaling to industrial roll-to-roll manufacture. We evaluate our microphysiological system with an epithelial (Caco-2/BBe1) barrier model of the small intestine, studying the biological effects of permeable support pore size, as well as stimulation with a common food compound (chili pepper-derived capsaicinoids). The cells form tight and continuous barrier layers inside our systems, with comparable permeability but superior epithelial polarization compared to Transwell culture, in line with other perfused microphysiological models. Permeable support pore size is shown to weakly impact barrier layer integrity as well as the metabolic cell profile. Capsaicinoid response proves distinct between culture systems, but we show that impacted metabolic pathways are partly conserved, and that cytoskeletal changes align with previous studies. Overall, our tape-based microphysiological system proves to be a robust and reproducible approach to studying physiological barriers, in spite of its low cost.
- This article is part of the themed collection: organ-on-a-chip systems: translating concept into practice