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Lab Chip. 2012 Nov 21;12(22):4829-34. doi: 10.1039/c2lc40891k.

Growth and positioning of adipose-derived stem cells in microfluidic devices.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada.


Stem cells hold great promise for treatment of various degenerative diseases. However, clinical studies have only shown very moderate benefits of cell therapy. We believe that insufficiency of therapeutic benefits is due to limited homing of implanted stem cells to targeted organs. Microfluidic devices are a very useful research tool for quantitative characterizations of stem cells. The present study therefore was to assess the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and direct current electric field (dcEF) on the growth and trafficking of adipose-derived stem cells (ASC). It was found that EGF did not affect cell proliferation in cell-culture flasks. However, ASC proliferated at a higher rate in microfluidic devices with continuous infusion of EGF. Furthermore, we found that ASC migrated toward an EGF gradient in microfluidic devices. Moreover, we found that ASC tended to position perpendicularly to dcEF. The results suggest that EGF and dcEF may be effective in guiding homing and trafficking of implanted ASC.

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