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Approach promises large-scale cell patterning in microchannels

The research of graduate student and first-author Xilal Rima (Eduardo Reátegui's group) has been featured by AIP Publishing as a "Scilight," published online on January 30, 2020. 

AIP describes their Scilight showcases as being "the most interesting research across the physical sciences published in AIP Publishing Journals." Rima's article was originally published in AIP Publishing's journal, Biomicrofluidics. 

The Scilight about Rima et al.'s research states that cell patterning has become a widespread, high-throughput approach for artificially constructing organic specimens, but that generating samples capable of holding different cell types remains a challenge.

The work of Rima et al. seeks to make fabricating such arrays easier and provide a path forward for better understanding cell-to-cell interactions. 

A microfluidic device (shown at top) can sort specific cell types using a technique called microstamping that creates surfaces whose chemistry can be altered to further tailor cell patterning both hydrodynamically and by self-assembly. The work marks one A microfluidic device (shown at top) can sort specific cell types using a technique called microstamping that creates surfaces whose chemistry can be altered to further tailor cell patterning both hydrodynamically and by self-assembly. The work marks one of the first successful attempts to pattern cells using two distinct methods in a microchannel.

Rima's approach for engineering large-scale arrays of cells within a microchannel uses a technique called microstamping (shown above). The resulting microchannels feature surfaces whose chemistry can be altered to further tailor cell patterning by controlling specific cell types that can be placed both hydrodynamically and by self-assembly into the stamped pattern.

Such work marks one of the first successful attempts to pattern cells using two distinct methods in a microchannel.

“As engineers, we were inspired by cell patterning, since spatially organizing cells can help in demystifying the complex cellular language present within the human body,” said author Eduardo Reátegui. “The use of a microchannel allows for controlled, small-volume investigations and also aided in reducing secondary adhesion without the use of chemistries outside of what was needed to pattern the cells.”

Whole blood running through a microfluidic deviceThe team demonstrated its use by creating a system in which H1568 cells from non-small cell lung cancer disrupted communication between neutrophils, workhorse cells in the immune system.

Microfluidic device sorting channels.Microfluidic device sorting channels.The approach patterned cells hydrodynamically with 93 percent efficiency and by self-assembly with 68 percent efficiency, all with negligible cell adhesion.

When introduced, the H1568 cells hindered neutrophils’ ability to coordinate a normal response, indicating the important roles of inflammatory mediators within the tumor’s microenvironment.

The group looks to continue its work by creating other platforms that facilitate intercellular communication with the use of extracellular vesicles capable of carrying membrane-bound particles.

AIP Publishing is widely considered a cornerstone of the physical sciences community and publishes journals such as Applied Physics Letters (the most highly-cited journal in physics for the past fifty years), Applied Physics Reviews (impact factor: 12.984), Journal of Applied Physics, and The Journal of Chemical Physics

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Surface engineering within a microchannel for hydrodynamic and self-assembled cell patterning,” by Xilal Y. Rima, Nicole Walters, Luong T. H. Nguyen, and Eduardo Reátegui, Biomicrofluidics (2019). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5126608.