Microfluidic device for studying cell migration in single or co-existing chemical gradients and electric fields.
ABSTRACT: Cell migration is involved in physiological processes such as wound healing, host defense, and cancer metastasis. The movement of various cell types can be directed by chemical gradients (i.e., chemotaxis). In addition to chemotaxis, many cell types can respond to direct current electric fields (dcEF) by migrating to either the cathode or the anode of the field (i.e., electrotaxis). In tissues, physiological chemical gradients and dcEF can potentially co-exist and the two guiding mechanisms may direct cell migration in a coordinated manner. Recently, microfluidic devices that can precisely configure chemical gradients or dcEF have been increasingly developed and used for chemotaxis and electrotaxis studies. However, a microfluidic device that can configure controlled co-existing chemical gradients and dcEF that would allow quantitative cell migration analysis in complex electrochemical guiding environments is not available. In this study, we developed a polydimethylsiloxane-based microfluidic device that can generate better controlled single or co-existing chemical gradients and dcEF. Using this device, we showed chemotactic migration of T cells toward a chemokine CCL19 gradient or electrotactic migration toward the cathode of an applied dcEF. Furthermore, T cells migrated more strongly toward the cathode of a dcEF in the presence of a competing CCL19 gradient, suggesting the higher electrotactic attraction. Taken together, the developed microfluidic device offers a new experimental tool for studying chemical and electrical guidance for cell migration, and our current results with T cells provide interesting new insights of immune cell migration in complex guiding environments.
Project description:We employed direct-current electric fields (dcEFs) to modulate the chemotaxis of lung cancer cells in a microfluidic cell culture device that incorporates both stable concentration gradients and dcEFs. We found that the chemotaxis induced by a 0.5 μM/mm concentration gradient of epidermal growth factor can be nearly compensated by a 360 mV/mm dcEF. When the effect of chemical stimulation was balanced by the electrical drive, the cells migrated randomly, and the path lengths were largely reduced. We also demonstrated electrically modulated chemotaxis of two types of lung cancer cells with opposite directions of electrotaxis in this device.
Project description:Electric fields are generated <i>in vivo</i> in a variety of physiologic and pathologic settings, including wound healing and immune response to injuries to epithelial barriers (e.g. lung pneumocytes). Immune cells are known to migrate towards both chemical (chemotaxis), physical (mechanotaxis) and electric stimuli (electrotaxis). Electrotaxis is the guided migration of cells along electric fields, and has previously been reported in T-cells and cancer cells. However, there remains a need for engineering tools with high spatial and temporal resolution to quantify EF guided migration. Here we report the development of an electrotaxis-on-chip (ETOC) platform that enables the quantification of dHL-60 cell, a model neutrophil-like cell line, migration toward both electrical and chemoattractant gradients. Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells and set the stage for the magnitude of the immune response. Therefore, developing engineering tools to direct neutrophil migration patterns has applications in both infectious disease and inflammatory disorders. The ETOC developed in this study has embedded electrodes and four migration zones connected to a central cell-loading chamber with migration channels [10 µm X 10 µm]. This device enables both parallel and competing chemoattractant and electric fields. We use our novel ETOC platform to investigate dHL-60 cell migration in three biologically relevant conditions: 1) in a DC electric field; 2) parallel chemical gradient and electric fields; and 3) perpendicular chemical gradient and electric field. In this study we used differentiated leukemia cancer cells (dHL60 cells), an accepted model for human peripheral blood neutrophils. We first quantified effects of electric field intensities (0.4V/cm-1V/cm) on dHL-60 cell electrotaxis. Our results show optimal migration at 0.6 V/cm. In the second scenario, we tested whether it was possible to increase dHL-60 cell migration to a bacterial signal [N-formylated peptides (fMLP)] by adding a parallel electric field. Our results show that there was significant increase (6-fold increase) in dHL60 migration toward fMLP and cathode of DC electric field (0.6V/cm, n=4, p-value<0.005) <i>vs</i>. fMLP alone. Finally, we evaluated whether we could decrease or re-direct dHL-60 cell migration away from an inflammatory signal [leukotriene B<sub>4</sub> (LTB<sub>4</sub>)]. The perpendicular electric field significantly decreased migration (2.9-fold decrease) of dHL60s toward LTB<sub>4</sub> <i>vs</i>. LTB<sub>4</sub> alone. Our microfluidic device enabled us to quantify single-cell electrotaxis velocity (7.9 µm/min ± 3.6). The magnitude and direction of the electric field can be more precisely and quickly changed than most other guidance cues such as chemical cues in clinical investigation. A better understanding of EF guided cell migration will enable the development of new EF-based treatments to precisely direct immune cell migration for wound care, infection, and other inflammatory disorders.
Project description:Adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most commonly diagnosed subtypes of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Numerous lung cancer cell types have exhibited electrotaxis under direct current electric fields (dcEF). Physiological electric fields (EF) play key roles in cancer cell migration. In this study, we investigated electrotaxis of NSCLC cells, including human large cell lung carcinoma NCI-H460 and human lung squamous cell carcinoma NCI-H520 cells. Non-cancerous MRC-5 lung fibroblasts were included as a control. After dcEF stimulation, NCI-H460 and NCI-H520 cells, which both exhibit epithelial-like morphology, migrated towards the cathode, while MRC-5 cells, which have fibroblast-like morphology, migrated towards the anode. The effect of doxycycline, a common antibiotic, on electrotaxis of MRC-5, NCI-H460 and NCI-H520 cells was examined. Doxycycline enhanced the tested cells' motility but inhibited electrotaxis in the NSCLC cells without inhibiting non-cancerous MRC-5 cells. Based on our finding, further in-vivo studies could be devised to investigate the metastasis inhibition effect of doxycycline in an organism level.
Project description:The nematode (worm) C. elegans is a leading multicellular animal model to study neuronal-basis of behavior. Worms respond to a wide range of stimuli and exhibit characteristic movement patterns. Here we describe the use of a microfluidics setup to probe neuronal activity that relies on the innate response of C. elegans to swim toward the cathode in the presence of a DC electric field (termed "electrotaxis"). Using this setup, we examined mutants affecting sensory and dopaminergic neurons and found that their electrotactic responses were defective. Such animals moved with reduced speed (35-80% slower than controls) with intermittent pauses, abnormal turning and slower body bends. A similar phenotype was observed in worms treated with neurotoxins 6-OHDA (6- hydroxy dopamine), MPTP (1-methyl 4-phenyl 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) and rotenone (20-60% slower). We also found that neurotoxin effects could be suppressed by pre-exposing worms to a known neuroprotective compound acetaminophen. Collectively, these results show that microfluidic electrotaxis can identify alterations in dopamine and amphid neuronal signaling based on swimming responses of C. elegans. Further characterization has revealed that the electrotactic swimming response is highly sensitive and reliable in detecting neuronal abnormalities. Thus, our microfluidics setup could be used to dissect neuronal function and toxin-induced neurodegeneration. Among other applications, the setup promises to facilitate genetic and chemical screenings to identify factors that mediate neuronal signaling and neuroprotection.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The limited regenerative capacity of cardiac tissue has long been an obstacle to treating damaged myocardium. Cell-based therapy offers an enormous potential to the current treatment paradigms. However, the efficacy of regenerative therapies remains limited by inefficient delivery and engraftment. Electrotaxis (electrically guided cell movement) has been clinically used to improve recovery in a number of tissues but has not been investigated for treating myocardial damage. OBJECTIVE:The purpose of this study was to test the electrotactic behaviors of several types of cardiac cells. METHODS:Cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs), cardiac fibroblasts (CFs), and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitor cells (hiPSC-CPCs) were used. RESULTS:CPCs and CFs electrotax toward the anode of a direct current electric field, whereas hiPSC-CPCs electrotax toward the cathode. The voltage-dependent electrotaxis of CPCs and CFs requires the presence of serum in the media. Addition of soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule to serum-free media restores directed migration. We provide evidence that CPC and CF electrotaxis is mediated through phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase signaling. In addition, very late antigen-4, an integrin and growth factor receptor, is required for electrotaxis and localizes to the anodal edge of CPCs in response to direct current electric field. The hiPSC-derived CPCs do not express very late antigen-4, migrate toward the cathode in a voltage-dependent manner, and, similar to CPCs and CFs, require media serum and phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase activity for electrotaxis. CONCLUSION:The electrotactic behaviors of these therapeutic cardiac cells may be used to improve cell-based therapy for recovering function in damaged myocardium.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Electrotaxis is the movement of adherent living cells in response to a direct current (dc) electric field (EF) of physiological strength. Highly metastatic human lung cancer cells, CL1-5, exhibit directional migration and orientation under dcEFs. To understand the transcriptional response of CL1-5 cells to a dcEF, microarray analysis was performed in this study. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:A large electric-field chip (LEFC) was designed, fabricated, and used in this study. CL1-5 cells were treated with the EF strength of 0 mV/mm (the control group) and 300 mV/mm (the EF-treated group) for two hours. Signaling pathways involving the genes that expressed differently between the two groups were revealed. It was shown that the EF-regulated genes highly correlated to adherens junction, telomerase RNA component gene regulation, and tight junction. Some up-regulated genes such as ACVR1B and CTTN, and some down-regulated genes such as PTEN, are known to be positively and negatively correlated to cell migration, respectively. The protein-protein interactions of adherens junction-associated EF-regulated genes suggested that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors and ephrin receptors may participate in sensing extracellular electrical stimuli. We further observed a high percentage of significantly regulated genes which encode cell membrane proteins, suggesting that dcEF may directly influence the activity of cell membrane proteins in signal transduction. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:In this study, some of the EF-regulated genes have been reported to be essential whereas others are novel for electrotaxis. Our result confirms that the regulation of gene expression is involved in the mechanism of electrotactic response.
Project description:Small direct current (DC) electric fields (EFs) guide neurite growth and migration of rodent neural stem cells (NSCs). However, this could be species dependent. Therefore, it is critical to investigate how human NSCs (hNSCs) respond to EF before any possible clinical attempt. Aiming to characterize the EF-stimulated and guided migration of hNSCs, we derived hNSCs from a well-established human embryonic stem cell line H9. Small applied DC EFs, as low as 16 mV/mm, induced significant directional migration toward the cathode. Reversal of the field polarity reversed migration of hNSCs. The galvanotactic/electrotactic response was both time and voltage dependent. The migration directedness and distance to the cathode increased with the increase of field strength. (Rho-kinase) inhibitor Y27632 is used to enhance viability of stem cells and has previously been reported to inhibit EF-guided directional migration in induced pluripotent stem cells and neurons. However, its presence did not significantly affect the directionality of hNSC migration in an EF. Cytokine receptor [C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4)] is important for chemotaxis of NSCs in the brain. The blockage of CXCR4 did not affect the electrotaxis of hNSCs. We conclude that hNSCs respond to a small EF by directional migration. Applied EFs could potentially be further exploited to guide hNSCs to injured sites in the central nervous system to improve the outcome of various diseases.
Project description:Electric fields are generated in vivo in a variety of physiologic and pathologic settings, including penetrating injury to epithelial barriers. An applied electric field with strength within the physiologic range can induce directional cell migration (i.e., electrotaxis) of epithelial cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and neutrophils suggesting a potential role in cell positioning during wound healing. In the present study, we investigated the ability of lymphocytes to respond to applied direct current (DC) electric fields. Using a modified Transwell assay and a simple microfluidic device, we show that human PBLs migrate toward the cathode in physiologically relevant DC electric fields. Additionally, electrical stimulation activates intracellular kinase signaling pathways shared with chemotactic stimuli. Finally, video microscopic tracing of GFP-tagged immunocytes in the skin of mouse ears reveals that motile cutaneous T cells actively migrate toward the cathode of an applied DC electric field. Lymphocyte positioning within tissues can thus be manipulated by externally applied electric fields, and may be influenced by endogenous electrical potential gradients as well.
Project description:Both endogenous and externally applied electrical stimulation can affect a wide range of cellular functions, including growth, migration, differentiation and division. Among those effects, the electrical field (EF)-directed cell migration, also known as electrotaxis, has received broad attention because it holds great potential in facilitating clinical wound healing. Electrotaxis experiment is conventionally conducted in centimetre-sized flow chambers built in Petri dishes. Despite the recent efforts to adapt microfluidics for electrotaxis studies, the current electrotaxis experimental setup is still cumbersome due to the needs of an external power supply and EF controlling/monitoring systems. There is also a lack of parallel experimental systems for high-throughput electrotaxis studies. In this paper, we present a first independently operable microfluidic platform for high-throughput electrotaxis studies, integrating all functional components for cell migration under EF stimulation (except microscopy) on a compact footprint (the same as a credit card), referred to as ElectroTaxis-on-a-Chip (ETC). Inspired by the R-2R resistor ladder topology in digital signal processing, we develop a systematic approach to design an infinitely expandable microfluidic generator of EF gradients for high-throughput and quantitative studies of EF-directed cell migration. Furthermore, a vacuum-assisted assembly method is utilized to allow direct and reversible attachment of our device to existing cell culture media on biological surfaces, which separates the cell culture and device preparation/fabrication steps. We have demonstrated that our ETC platform is capable of screening human cornea epithelial cell migration under the stimulation of an EF gradient spanning over three orders of magnitude. The screening results lead to the identification of the EF-sensitive range of that cell type, which can provide valuable guidance to the clinical application of EF-facilitated wound healing.
Project description:Migration of cancer cells leads to the invasion of distant organs by primary tumors. Further, endogenous electric fields (EFs) in the tumor microenvironment direct the migration of lung cancer cells by a process referred to as electrotaxis - although the precise mechanism remains unclear. Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) is a multifunctional scaffolding protein that is associated with directional cell migration and lung cancer invasion; however, its precise role in lung cancer electrotaxis is unknown. In the present study, we first detected outward electric currents on the tumor body surface in lung cancer xenografts using a highly-sensitive vibrating probe. Next, we found that highly-metastatic H1650-M3 cells migrated directionally to the cathode. In addition, reversal of the EF polarity reversed the direction of migration. Mechanistically, EFs activated Cav-1 and the downstream signaling molecule STAT3. RNA interference of Cav-1 reduced directional cell migration, which was accompanied by dampened STAT3 activation. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of STAT3 significantly reduced the electrotactic response, while rescue of STAT3 activation in Cav-1 knock-down cells restored electrotaxis. Taken together, these results suggest that endogenous EFs in the tumor micro-environment might play an important role in lung cancer metastasis by guiding cell migration through a Cav-1/STAT3-mediated signaling pathway.