Development of a novel microfluidic device for long-term in situ monitoring of live cells in 3-dimensional matrices

Biomed Microdevices. 2012 Oct;14(5):885-93. doi: 10.1007/s10544-012-9668-1.


Using the latest innovations in microfabrication technology, 3-dimensional microfluidic cell culture systems have been developed as an attractive alternative to traditional 2-dimensional culturing systems as a model for long-term microscale cell-based research. Most microfluidic systems are based on the embedding of cells in hydrogels. However, physiologically realistic conditions based on hydrogels are difficult to obtain and the systems are often too complicated. We have developed a microfluidic cell culture device that incorporates a biodegradable rigid 3D polymer scaffold using standard soft lithography methods. The device permits repeated high-resolution fluorescent imaging of live cell populations within the matrix over a 4 week period. It was also possible to track cell development at the same spatial location throughout this time. In addition, human primary periodontal ligament cells were induced to produce quantifiable calcium deposits within the system. This simple and versatile device should be readily applicable for cell-based studies that require long-term culture and high-resolution bioimaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Microfluidics / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidics / methods
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Periodontal Ligament / cytology


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Hydrogels