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Lab Chip. 2012 Sep 7;12(17):3117-26. doi: 10.1039/c2lc40349h. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Heterotypic cell pair co-culturing on patterned microarrays.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


We present a pair-wise co-culturing technique that creates large numbers of heterotypic cell pairs in patterned arrays. Lithographic patterning produces arrays with thousands of traps, each designed to accommodate only two cells and confine them at these sites for co-culturing. Two variants are introduced: a random seeding method that sediments a mixture of two cell types onto the array, and an approach that incorporates ferromagnetic thin films into the arrays and attracts cells that have been attached to ferromagnetic nanowires to the array sites through dipole interactions. The array technique includes the utilization of custom image analysis software that extracts data from multi-channel fluorescence images and records information about the cells in every trap, enabling the acquisition of accurate, high-statistics data. The applicability of the technique was demonstrated in experiments examining proliferation rates in pairs of bovine pulmonary artery endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Results demonstrated that heterotypic interactions favored smooth muscle cell proliferation while disfavoring endothelial cell proliferation. This is one example of a variety of cell-cell interactions that could be probed with this method.

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