Analysis of the paracrine loop between cancer cells and fibroblasts using a microfluidic chip

Lab Chip. 2011 May 21;11(10):1808-14. doi: 10.1039/c1lc20090a. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


We use a microfluidic cell culture chip equipped with pneumatic microvalves to analyze the paracrine loop between lung cancer cells and fibroblasts. In order to assess the cellular responses in the paracrine loop, we measure the migration speeds of cancer cells and the aspect ratios of fibroblasts which reflect the phenotype of myofibroblasts. With well-controlled interaction sequences between these two types of cells, we verify that the cytokines from cancer cells effectively stimulate the fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. The cytokines from myofibroblasts, rather than fibroblasts, increase the migration speeds of cancer cells. We confirm that the transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is involved in the interaction between cancer cells and fibroblasts, and we also interrupt this paracrine loop in the cell culture chip by inhibiting the TGF-β1 receptors on fibroblasts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement
  • Dioxoles / pharmacology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Myofibroblasts / cytology
  • Myofibroblasts / metabolism
  • Paracrine Communication*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • 4-(5-benzo(1,3)dioxol-5-yl-4-pyridin-2-yl-1H-imidazol-2-yl)benzamide
  • Actins
  • Benzamides
  • Dioxoles
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1