In this work, a simple and versatile microfluidic cell density gradient generator was successfully developed for cytotoxicity of quantum dots (QDs) assay. The microfluidic cell density gradient generator is composed of eight parallel channels which are respectively surrounded by 18 microwells with optimized length and width. The cells fall into microwells by gravity and the cell densities are obviously dependent of microwell number. In a case study, HepG2 and MCF-7 cells were successfully utilized for generating cell density gradients on the microfluidic chip. The microfluidic cell density gradient generator was proved to be easily handled, cell-friendly and could be used to conduct the subsequent cell-based assay. As a proof-of-concept, QD cytotoxicity was evaluated and the results exhibited obvious cell density-dependence. For comparison, QD cytotoxicity was also investigated with a series of cell densities infused by pipette tips. Higher reproducibility was observed on the microfluidic cell density gradient generator and cell density was demonstrated to be a vital factor in cytotoxic study. With higher efficiency, controllability and reproducibility, the microfluidic cell density gradient generator could be integrated into microfluidic analysis systems to promote chip-based biological assay.
Wu, Jing, Qiushui Chen, Wu Liu, Jin-Ming Lin