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Small. 2009 May;5(10):1186-94. doi: 10.1002/smll.200801644.

Cell docking in double grooves in a microfluidic channel.

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  • 1Center for Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 021158, USA.


Microstructures that generate shear-protected regions in microchannels can rapidly immobilize cells for cell-based biosensing and drug screening. Here, a two-step fabrication method is used to generate double microgrooves with various depth ratios to achieve controlled double-level cell patterning while still providing shear protection. Six microgroove geometries are fabricated with different groove widths and depth ratios. Two modes of cell docking are observed: cells docked upstream in sufficiently deep and narrow grooves, and downstream in shallow, wide grooves. Computational flow simulations link the groove geometry and bottom shear stress to the experimental cell docking patterns. Analysis of the experimental cell retention in the double grooves demonstrates its linear dependence on inlet flow speed, with slope inversely proportional to the sheltering provided by the groove geometry. Thus, double-grooved microstructures in microfluidic channels provide shear-protected regions for cell docking and immobilization and appear promising for cell-based biosensing and drug discovery.

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