Photothermal Agarose Microfabrication Technology for Collective Cell Migration Analysis

Micromachines (Basel). 2021 Aug 26;12(9):1015. doi: 10.3390/mi12091015.


Agarose photothermal microfabrication technology is one of the micropatterning techniques that has the advantage of simple and flexible real-time fabrication even during the cultivation of cells. To examine the ability and limitation of the agarose microstructures, we investigated the collective epithelial cell migration behavior in two-dimensional agarose confined structures. Agarose microchannels from 10 to 211 micrometer width were fabricated with a spot heating of a focused 1480 nm wavelength infrared laser to the thin agarose layer coated on the cultivation dish after the cells occupied the reservoir. The collective cell migration velocity maintained constant regardless of their extension distance, whereas the width dependency of those velocities was maximized around 30 micrometer width and decreased both in the narrower and wider microchannels. The single-cell tracking revealed that the decrease of velocity in the narrower width was caused by the apparent increase of aspect ratio of cell shape (up to 8.9). In contrast, the decrease in the wider channels was mainly caused by the increase of the random walk-like behavior of component cells. The results confirmed the advantages of this method: (1) flexible fabrication without any pre-designing, (2) modification even during cultivation, and (3) the cells were confined in the agarose geometry.

Keywords: agarose; collective cell migration; epithelial cells; photothermal microfabrication.