Cues in the micro-environment are key determinants in the emergence of complex cellular morphologies and functions. Primary among these is the presence of neighboring cells that form networks. For high-resolution analysis, it is crucial to develop micro-environments that permit exquisite control of network formation. This is especially true in cell science, tissue engineering, and clinical biology. We introduce a new approach for assembling polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based microfluidic environments that enhances cell network formation and analyses. We report that the combined processes of PDMS solvent-extraction and hydrothermal annealing create unique conditions that produce high-strength bonds between solvent-extracted PDMS (E-PDMS) and glass—properties not associated with conventional PDMS. Extraction followed by hydrothermal annealing removes unbound oligomers, promotes polymer cross-linking, facilitates covalent bond formation with glass, and retains the highest biocompatibility. Herein, our extraction protocol accelerates oligomer removal from 5 to 2 days. Resulting microfluidic platforms are uniquely suited for cell-network studies owing to high adhesion forces, effectively corralling cellular extensions and eliminating harmful oligomers. We demonstrate the simple, simultaneous actuation of multiple microfluidic domains for invoking ATP- and glutamate-induced Ca2+ signaling in glial-cell networks. These E-PDMS modifications and flow manipulations further enable microfluidic technologies for cell-signaling and network studies as well as novel applications.
- solvent extraction
- cell signaling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering