Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Regular research article
12 Jul 2016
Regular research article |  | 12 Jul 2016

Microfluidic measurement of cell motility in response to applied non-homogeneous DC electric fields

Marisa Rio, Sharanya Bola, Richard H. W. Funk, and Gerald Gerlach

Abstract. Endogenous electric fields (EFs) play an important role in many biological processes. In order to gain an insight into these biological phenomena, externally applied electric fields are used to study cellular responses. In this work, we report the construction and fabrication of a direct current (DC)-electrically stimulated microfluidic biochip and its validation with murine photoreceptor-derived 661 W cells. The presented device has the particularity of offering a non-homogeneous EF environment that best resembles the endogenous electric fields in vitro. The fabrication process is relatively easy, namely by photolithography and soft lithography techniques and, furthermore, it enables live-cell imaging under an inverted microscope. First experimental results reveal cathodal directional cell migration upon applied DC EFs. In summary, the microfluidic biochip has proven biocompatibility and suitability for cellular electrotaxis experiments in non-homogeneous DC electric fields.

Short summary
Endogeneous electric fields (EFs) affect a wide range of cellular functions such as migration, wound healing and regeneration. Similar results were observed when external EFs are applied. To date, the phenomenon of electrotaxis has been studied only in homogeneous EF environments. Here, we report on the construction and fabrication of a microfluidic biochip as well as first results for stimulation of cells with stationary, non-homogeneous EFs.