Open Fluidics: A Cell Culture Flow System Developed Over Wettability Contrast-Based Chips

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Biological tissues are recurrently exposed to several dynamic mechanical forces that influence cell behavior. On this work, the focus is on the shear stress forces induced by fluid flow. The study of flow-induced effects on cells leads to important advances in cardiovascular, cancer, stem cell, and bone biology understanding. These studies are performed using cell culture flow (CCF) systems, mainly parallel plate flow chambers (PPFC), and microfluidic systems. Here, it is proposed an original CCF system based on the open fluidics concept. The system is developed using a planar superhydrophobic platform with hydrophilic paths. The paths work as channels to drive cell culture medium flows without using walls for liquid confinement. The liquid streams are controlled just based on the wettability contrast. To validate the concept, the effect of the shear stress stimulus in the osteogenic differentiation of C2C12 myoblast cells is studied. Combining bone morphogenic protein (specifically BMP-2) stimulation with this mechanical stimulus, a synergistic effect is found on osteoblast differentiation. This effect is confirmed by the enhancement of alkaline phosphatase activity, a well-known early marker of osteogenic differentiation. The suggested CCF system combines characteristics and advantages of both the PPFC and microfluidic systems.

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