Adding the 'heart' to hanging drop networks for microphysiological multi-tissue experiments

Lab Chip. 2015 Nov 7;15(21):4138-47. doi: 10.1039/c5lc01000d. Epub 2015 Sep 24.


Microfluidic hanging-drop networks enable culturing and analysis of 3D microtissue spheroids derived from different cell types under controlled perfusion and investigating inter-tissue communication in multi-tissue formats. In this paper we introduce a compact on-chip pumping approach for flow control in hanging-drop networks. The pump includes one pneumatic chamber located directly above one of the hanging drops and uses the surface tension at the liquid-air-interface for flow actuation. Control of the pneumatic protocol provides a wide range of unidirectional pulsatile and continuous flow profiles. With the proposed concept several independent hanging-drop networks can be operated in parallel with only one single pneumatic actuation line at high fidelity. Closed-loop medium circulation between different organ models for multi-tissue formats and multiple simultaneous assays in parallel are possible. Finally, we implemented a real-time feedback control-loop of the pump actuation based on the beating of a human iPS-derived cardiac microtissue cultured in the same system. This configuration allows for simulating physiological effects on the heart and their impact on flow circulation between the organ models on chip.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Myocardium / cytology*
  • Pressure
  • Spheroids, Cellular
  • Surface Tension
  • Temperature