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Researchers Develop Microfluidic Device Mimicking Vascular System

microfluidic vascular structure

(A) A schematic of the microfluidic device and cell-seeding configuration. (B) Photograph of 2-gel region microfluidic device. (C) Visualization of VE-cadherin (red) at 60 reveals continuous cell–cell junctions. (D) Collagen IV basement membrane deposition (green) around the lumen (red) and in the perivascular space suggests vessel maturation. (E) Perfusion of vessels with 70 kDa dextran reveals patent lumens void of local leaks. Scale bars are 20 mm.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed an improved microfluidic platform incorporating natural vascular structures for modeling the entire process of extravasation in vitro. The device has already been used to shown the effect of inflammatory cytokine TNF-α on tumor cell extravasation.

Previous extravasation assays using microfluidic devices provide higher throughput but are limited in their physiological relevance. On the other hand, in vivo models using live zebrafish provide high resolution imaging and are physiologically relevant but restricted when it comes to their ability for parametric studies. As such, the new system incorporates 3-D microvascular networks that imitate natural blood vessel structure while microfluidic control mimics blood flow. This offers various key advantages over existing in vitro extravasation models including high resolution imaging with fluorescent-labelled tumor cells; increased physiological relevance and the ability to perform parametric studies. The study has been published in journal, Integrative Biology.

The improved microfluidic 3-D microvascular platform provides the flexibility in experimentation as researchers can change the cell type, cell density and matrix properties accordingly. This new system has no doubt provided new insights to the complex process of extravasation in cancer metastasis.