Highly efficient and gentle trapping of single cells in large microfluidic arrays for time-lapse experiments
The isolation of single biological cells and their further cultivation in dedicated arrayed chambers are key to the collection of statistically reliable temporal data in cell-based biological experiments. In this work, we present a hydrodynamic single cell trapping and culturing platform that facilitates cell observation and experimentation using standard bio-lab equipment. The proposed design leverages the stochastic position of the cells as they flow into the structured microfluidic channels, where hundreds of single cells are then arrayed in nanoliter chambers for simultaneous cell specific data collection. Numerical simulation tools are used to devise and implement a hydrodynamiccell trapping mechanism that is minimally detrimental to the cell cycle and retains high overall trapping efficiency (∼70%) with the capability of reaching high fill factors (>90%) in short loading times (1–4 min) in a 400-trap device. A Monte Carlo model is developed using the design parameters to estimate the system trapping efficiencies, which show strong agreement with the experimentally acquired data. As proof of concept, arrayed mammalian tissuecells (MIA PaCa-2) are cultured in the microfluidic chambers for two days without viability problems.