Capillary-valve-based platform towards cell-on-chip mechanotransduction assays
Reliable in vitro models are required to understand the ability of cells to respond and adapt to mechanical stimuli. To mimic and interface with the microenvironment, lab-on-a-chip devices and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) provide excellent options. However, little effort has been done in combining them. To address this shortcoming, we have developed a versatile microengineered platform which consists of two parts: an electrostatically actuated MEMS device used for mechanobiology assays, and a fluidic system for cell culture. A capillary valve allows inserting a silicon chip horizontally in the culture medium without leakage and without wetting of the electrostatic microactuators. The platform is designed for mechanotransduction assay on cells and aims specifically human mesenchymal stem cells. The proof of principle of the platform was performed by stable and long-term cultures of rat fibroblasts. We could also study the effect of periodic stress at various excitation frequencies.