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Liver-lobule-on-a-chip microfluidic device for long-term maintenance of human hepatocytes

Conference contribution
Authors Amin Abbaszadehbanaeiyan
Jannick Theobald
Philip Dalsbecker
Caroline B. Adiels
Stefan Wölfl
Mattias Goksör
Published in Presented at EMBEC’17 & NBC’17 (conference), 11-15 juni 2017, Tampere, Finland
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Keywords Liver on a chip, hepatocytes, PDMS, microfluidics
Subject categories Biophysics, Cell Biology


The pressing need for in vitro micro-physiological platforms for drug discovery and development has given rise to the emergence of organs-on-a-chip (OOC) microfluidic devices. The possibility of reproducing the native niche of each organ in a dynamic microenvironment offers advantages over current static 2D and 3D cell culture techniques. Constant removal of waste products and metabolites from the culture while providing a continuous flow of growth media is one of the major benefits of dynamic OOC systems. Additionally, physiological flow conditions can be introduced to the system allowing for reproduction of the vasculature parameters of organs in vitro. The liver is the main organ in the body for drug clearance and detoxification. The key role of the liver in the metabolism system of the human body makes it an interesting target organ to mimic in the dynamic OOC systems. Here we present a PDMS-based liver-lobule-on-a-chip microfluidic device designed to reproduce the geometrical as well as convection-diffusion mass transport aspects of the classic liver lobule. We cultured human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived hepatocytes (CDI) in honeycomb cell culture chambers with involvement of two different extra-cellular matrix (ECM) materials. In the first approach, microfluidic devices were pre-treated with rat-tail collagen I and cell suspension was seeded in the devices afterwards. Cells were seeded in the devices with the supplemented plating medium (RPMI) and culture for 5 days. The medium was changed to the supplemented mainte-nance media (RPMI) thereafter and replaced every other day. In the second approach, we mixed the cell suspension with 20% diluted GeltrexTM (15 mg/ml) in a 1:1 ratio. Cells were seeded in the supplemented plating media (RPMI) and were kept under conditions identical to approach one during the hepatocyte maturation period. After day 5, however, the formulation of maintenance media was changed to supplemented DMEM/F12. Cultures were kept viable and functional for at least three weeks. In both scenarios cells formed 3D tissue-like structures and formation of bile canaliculi network was observed in the devices versus 2D static cultures. The compatibility of the device for drug toxicity applications and multi-cellular in vitro organotype construction is currently under exploration.

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