3D tissue scaffold for on-chip gut: microfabrication and integration into fluidic cell culture platform


Esch, M.B., Sung, J.H., Yang, J. Yu, J., March, J.C., Shuler, M.L. “On Chip Porous Polymer Membranes for Integration of Gastrointestinal Tract Epithelium with Microfluidic ‘Body-on-a-Chip’ Devices”, Biomedical Microdevices, 2012, 14 (5), 895-906.

We have developed a method to fabricate porous polymer membranes that are shaped in 3D to form 50 x 50 μm tall villi. This membrane was used as a scaffold to culture gut cells (Caco-2 and primary gut cells) on silicon within microfluidic systems. The 3D cell cultures can be used to simulate the oral uptake and absorption of nutrients, drugs, and drug carriers.  When incorporated into a microfluidic system that facilitates the recirculation of medium the tissue can also be combined with other on-chip tissues such as liver tissue to simulate the first pass metabolism. First pass metabolism refers to the absorption of ingested substances through intestinal tissue and their immediate transfer to the liver where enzymes can metabolize them before they enter the systemic circulation. The process considerably decreases the bioavailability of ingested substances and is of interest to drug developers, toxicologists, and nutrition scientists.

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