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Biomaterials. 2002 Feb;23(3):929-35.

Surface passivation of a microfluidic device to glial cell adhesion: a comparison of hydrophobic and hydrophilic SAM coatings.

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Sandia National Laboratories, Biomolecular Materials and Interfaces Department, Albuquerque, NM 87185-1413, USA.


Cell adhesion in a microfluidic structure can lead to catastrophic flow problems due to the comparable size of the cell with the microfabricated device. Such issues are important in the growing research area involving the merging of biological materials and MEMS devices. We have examined the surface compatibility of uncoated and coated microfabricated glass and semiconductor surfaces under static solution (cell culture) and flow experiments (microfluidic device) using glial (astrocyte and glioblastoma) cells. Bare semiconductor and glass surfaces were most attractive to cell adhesion, promoting biofouling under both static and flow conditions. Passivation of the surfaces was performed with silane coupling agents octadecyltrimethoxysilane (OTMS) or N-(triethoxysilylpropyl)-O-polyethylene oxide urethane (TESP) on SiO2 surfaces via self-assembled monolayer (SAM) deposition. The hydrophilic TESP coating was effective at inhibiting biofouling of the microfluidic structure, allowing greater than several minutes of fluid flow. The hydrophobic OTMS coating, on the other hand, promoted cell adhesion leading to restricted flow within a few minutes. Interestingly, under cell culture conditions the TESP surface exhibited biocompatible properties for glial cell adhesion and proliferation, in contrast to the OTMS surface which resisted cell growth. These studies suggest that cell adhesion is dependent upon the time domain of the cell-surface interaction.

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