Controlled electromechanical cell stimulation on-a-chip

Pavesi A, Adriani G, Rasponi M, Zervantonakis IK, Fiore GB, Kamm RD
Source: Scientific Reports
Publication Date: (2015)
Issue: 5: 11800-11812
Research Area:
Stem Cells
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: bone marrow
Authors report the design, fabrication and validation of a new micro-scale cell stimulator capable of providing simultaneous mechanical, electrical, and biochemical stimulation required for stem cell differentiation studies. The micro-bioreactor was designed to concurrently (i) perform mechanical stretching on a cell culture substrate, (ii) apply a uniform electric field in the cell culture region, and (iii) enable the straightforward delivery of biochemical stimulation. To test the capacity of the system in controlling key variables for efficient and reproducible electromechanical stimulation, Lonza’s human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) were used, which can be differentiated into various types of tissue cells, such as bone, adipose, cartilage, and muscle.
Stem cell research has yielded promising advances in regenerative medicine, but standard assays generally lack the ability to combine different cell stimulations with rapid sample processing and precise fluid control. In this work, we describe the design and fabrication of a micro-scale cell stimulator capable of simultaneously providing mechanical, electrical, and biochemical stimulation, and subsequently extracting detailed morphological and gene-expression analysis on the cellular response. This micro-device offers the opportunity to overcome previous limitations and recreate critical elements of the in vivo microenvironment in order to investigate cellular responses to three different stimulations. The platform was validated in experiments using human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. These experiments demonstrated the ability for inducing changes in cell morphology, cytoskeletal fiber orientation and changes in gene expression under physiological stimuli. This novel bioengineering approach can be readily applied to various studies, especially in the fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.