Compartmentalized Microfluidic Platforms: The Unrivaled Breakthrough of In Vitro Tools for Neurobiological Research

J Neurosci. 2016 Nov 16;36(46):11573-11584. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1748-16.2016.


Microfluidic technology has become a valuable tool to the scientific community, allowing researchers to study fine cellular mechanisms with higher variable control compared with conventional systems. It has evolved tremendously, and its applicability and flexibility made its usage grow exponentially and transversely to several research fields. This has been particularly noticeable in neuroscience research, where microfluidic platforms made it possible to address specific questions extending from axonal guidance, synapse formation, or axonal transport to the development of 3D models of the CNS to allow pharmacological testing and drug screening. Furthermore, the continuous upgrade of microfluidic platforms has allowed a deeper study of the communication occurring between different neuronal and glial cells or between neurons and other peripheral tissues, both in physiological and pathological conditions. Importantly, the evolution of microfluidic technology has always been accompanied by the development of new computational tools addressing data acquisition, analysis, and modeling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Batch Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Bioreactors
  • Cell Separation / instrumentation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Flow Cytometry / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation*