A microfluidic cell co-culture platform that uses a liquid fluorocarbon oil barrier to separate cells into different culture chambers has been developed. Characterization indicates that the oil barrier could be effective for multiple days, and a maximum pressure difference between the oil barrier and aqueous media in the cell culture chamber could be as large as ~3.43 kPa before the oil barrier fails. Biological applications have been demonstrated with the separate transfection of two groups of primary hippocampal neurons with two different fluorescent proteins and subsequent observation of synaptic contacts between the neurons. In addition, the quality of the fluidic seal provided by the oil barrier is shown to be greater than that of an alternative solid-PDMS valve barrier design by testing the ability of each device to block low molecular weight CellTracker dyes used to stain cells in the culture chambers.
Brewer, Bryson M., Mingjian Shi, Jon F. Edd, Donna J. Webb, Deyu Li