Multiplexed blood–brain barrier organ-on-chip†
Organ-on-chip devices are intensively studied in academia and industry due to their high potential in pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. However, most of the existing organ-on-chip models focus on proof of concept of individual functional units without the possibility of testing multiple experimental stimuli in parallel. Here we developed a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) multiplexed chip with eight parallel channels branching from a common access port through which all eight channels can be addressed simultaneously without the need for extra pipetting steps thus increasing the reproducibility of the experimental results. At the same time, eight outlets provide individual entry to each channel with the opportunity to create eight different experimental conditions. A multiplexed chip can be assembled as a one-layer device for studying monocultures or as a two-layer device for studying barrier tissue functions. For a two-layer device, a ∼2 μm thick transparent PDMS membrane with 5 μm through-hole pores was fabricated in-house using a soft lithography technique, thereby allowing visual inspection of the cell-culture in real-time. The functionality of the chip was studied by recapitulating the blood–brain barrier. For this, human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3) were cultured in mono- or coculture with human astrocytes. Immunostaining revealed a cellular monolayer with the expression of tight junction ZO-1 and adherence junction VE-cadherin proteins in endothelial cells as well as glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression in astrocytes. Furthermore, multiplexed permeability studies of molecule passage through the cellular barrier exhibited expected high permeability coefficients for smaller molecules (4 kDa FITC–dextran) whereas larger molecules (20 kDa) crossed the barrier at a lower rate. With these results, we show that our device can be used as an organ-on-chip model for future multiplexed drug testing.
- This article is part of the themed collection: organ-on-a-chip systems: translating concept into practice