Integrated microfluidics platforms for investigating injury and regeneration of CNS axons

Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Jun;40(6):1268-76. doi: 10.1007/s10439-012-0515-6.


We describe the development of experimental platforms to quantify the regeneration of injured central nervous system (CNS) neurons by combining engineering technologies and primary neuronal cultures. Although the regeneration of CNS neurons is an important area of research, there are no currently available methods to screen for drugs. Conventional tissue culture based on Petri dish does not provide controlled microenvironment for the neurons and only provide qualitative information. In this review, we introduced the recent advances to generate in vitro model system that is capable of mimicking the niche of CNS injury and regeneration and also of testing candidate drugs. We reconstructed the microenvironment of the regeneration of CNS neurons after injury to provide as in vivo like model system where the soluble and surface bounded inhibitors for regeneration are presented in physiologically relevant manner using microfluidics and surface patterning methods. The ability to control factors and also to monitor them using live cell imaging allowed us to develop quantitative assays that can be used to compare various drug candidates and also to understand the basic mechanism behind nerve regeneration after injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons* / metabolism
  • Axons* / pathology
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Central Nervous System* / injuries
  • Central Nervous System* / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System* / pathology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical* / instrumentation
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical* / methods
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques* / instrumentation
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques* / methods
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nerve Regeneration*