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Authors Theberge AB, Yu J, Young EW, Ricke WA, Bushman W, Beebe DJ
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Journal Anal. Chem. Volume: 87 Issue: 6 Pages: 3239-46
Publish Date 2015 Mar 17
PubMed ID 25719435
PMC ID 4405103

Angiogenesis (the formation of blood vessels from existing blood vessels) plays a critical role in many diseases such as cancer, benign tumors, and macular degeneration. There is a need for cell culture methods capable of dissecting the intricate regulation of angiogenesis within the microenvironment of the vasculature. We have developed a microscale cell-based assay that responds to complex pro- and antiangiogenic soluble factors with an in vitro readout for vessel formation. The power of this system over traditional techniques is that we can incorporate the whole milieu of soluble factors produced by cells in situ into one biological readout (vessel formation), even if the identity of the factors is unknown. We have currently incorporated macrophages, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts into the assay, with the potential to include additional cell types in the future. Importantly, the microfluidic platform is simple to operate and multiplex to test drugs targeting angiogenesis in a more physiologically relevant context. As a proof of concept, we tested the effect of an enzyme inhibitor (targeting matrix metalloproteinase 12) on vessel formation; the triculture microfluidic assay enabled us to capture a dose-dependent effect entirely missed in a simplified coculture assay (p < 0.0001). This result underscores the importance of cell-based assays that capture chemical cross-talk occurring between cell types. The microscale dimensions significantly reduce cell consumption compared to conventional well plate platforms, enabling the use of limited primary cells from patients in future investigations and offering the potential to screen therapeutic approaches for individual patients in vitro.

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