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Lab Chip. 2014 Sep 21;14(18):3582-8. doi: 10.1039/c4lc00676c. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

A microchip platform for interrogating tumor-macrophage paracrine signaling at the single-cell level.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


It is increasingly recognized that infiltrating immune cells contribute to the pathogenesis of a wide range of solid tumors. The paracrine signaling between the tumor and the immune cells alters the functional state of individual tumor cells and, correspondingly, the anticipated response to radiation or chemotherapies, which is of great importance to clinical oncology. Here we present a high-density microchip platform capable of measuring a panel of paracrine signals associated with heterotypic tumor-immune cell interactions in the single-cell, pair-wise manner. The device features a high-content cell capture array of 5000+ sub-nanoliter microchambers for the isolation of single and multi-cell combinations and a multi-plex antibody "barcode" array for multiplexed protein secretion analysis from each microchamber. In this work, we measured a panel of 16 proteins produced from individual glioma cells, individual macrophage cells and varying heterotypic multi-cell combinations of both on the same device. The results show changes of tumor cell functional phenotypes that cannot be explained by an additive effect from isolated single cells and, presumably, can be attributed to the paracrine signaling between macrophage and glioma cells. The protein correlation analysis reveals the key signaling nodes altered by tumor-macrophage communication. This platform enables the novel pair-wise interrogation of heterotypic cell-cell paracrine signaling at the individual cell level with an in-depth analysis of the changing functional phenotypes for different co-culture cell combinations.

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