A robust high-throughput sandwich cell-based drug screening platform

Biomaterials. 2011 Feb;32(4):1229-41. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.09.064. Epub 2010 Oct 23.


Hepatotoxicity evaluation of pharmaceutical lead compounds in early stages of drug development has drawn increasing attention. Sandwiched hepatocytes exhibiting stable functions in culture represent a standard model for hepatotoxicity testing of drugs. We have developed a robust and high-throughput hepatotoxicity testing platform based on the sandwiched hepatocytes for drug screening. The platform involves a galactosylated microfabricated membrane sandwich to support cellular function through uniform and efficient mass transfer while protecting cells from excessive shear. Perfusion bioreactor further enhances mass transfer and cellular functions over long period; and hepatocytes are readily transferred to 96-well plate for high-throughput robotic liquid handling. The bioreactor design and perfusion flow rate are optimized by computational fluid dynamics simulation and experimentally. The cultured hepatocytes preserved 3D cell morphology, urea production and cytochrome p450 activity of the mature hepatocytes for 14 days. When the perfusion-cultured sandwich is transferred to 96-well plate for drug testing, the hepatocytes exhibited improved drug sensitivity and low variability in hepatotoxicity responses amongst cells transferred from different dates of perfusion culture. The platform enables robust high-throughput screening of drug candidates.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / instrumentation
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Male
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations