2014 Volume 9 Issue 1 Pages JBSE0006
The endothelial cells lining our cardiovascular system are constantly affected by shear stress, which can alter both the morphology and biological activity of the cells. Methods to study the basic shear stress response by creating stable flow profiles on the macro scale are well established, but they do not allow the generation of controlled high precision flow profiles. The emergence of microfluidic devices has enabled well-defined individual cellular response studies on endothelial cells in scale-relevant tools. However, so far, no shear stress studies on clonal heterogeneity have been published. We have developed a novel bioassay system to study several shear stress conditions in parallel on clonal expanded single cells. The device consists of a silicon/glass microwell slide with integrated polydimethylsiloxane microchannels, which delivers shear stress to cells in a well-controlled manner using micropumps. The flow behavior of the device was numerically characterized by computational fluid dynamics analysis, which confirmed that the desired fluid-imposed shear stress was obtained. Bovine aortic endothelial cells were cultured in the microwells for 24 hours and then subjected to a fluid shear stress of up to 2.0 Pa for 6 hours. The results showed that alignment and elongation of the endothelial cells along the flow direction were dependent on the level of shear stress applied. It was demonstrated that multiple experimental conditions can be examined simultaneously within a single device and the compartmentalized structure of the microwell slide can be used to ensure physical separation of cells in individual wells. Moreover, it was shown that the device could reduce consumption of expensive reagents and enable screening of rare samples.