Studying Electrotaxis in Microfluidic Devices.Sensors (Basel). 2017 Sep 07; 17(9)S
Collective cell migration is important in various physiological processes such as morphogenesis, cancer metastasis and cell regeneration. Such migration can be induced and guided by different chemical and physical cues. Electrotaxis, referring to the directional migration of adherent cells under stimulus of electric fields, is believed to be highly involved in the wound-healing process. Electrotactic experiments are conventionally conducted in Petri dishes or cover glasses wherein cells are cultured and electric fields are applied. However, these devices suffer from evaporation of the culture medium, non-uniformity of electric fields and low throughput. To overcome these drawbacks, micro-fabricated devices composed of micro-channels and fluidic components have lately been applied to electrotactic studies. Microfluidic devices are capable of providing cells with a precise micro-environment including pH, nutrition, temperature and various stimuli. Therefore, with the advantages of reduced cell/reagent consumption, reduced Joule heating and uniform and precise electric fields, microfluidic chips are perfect platforms for observing cell migration under applied electric fields. In this paper, I review recent developments in designing and fabricating microfluidic devices for studying electrotaxis, aiming to provide critical updates in this rapidly-growing, interdisciplinary field.