Both in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that the permeability of the endothelial cell layer that lines vascular walls is influenced by hemodynamic forces. Specific wall shear stress patterns are believed to induce phenotypic changes in cells that alter the uptake of molecules such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and lead to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. The purpose of this research is to develop a microfluidic device in which the flux of specific macromolecules across an endothelial layer can be measured in different locations of a channel. By appropriately designing the channel, small groups of only tens of cells can be exposed to varied flow conditions and their corresponding permeability can be measured. A preliminary design involves the integration of a polycarbonate membrane between two PDMS channels. After culturing endothelial cells to confluence within one of the channels, solution containing fluorescently labeled LDL will be run through the channel to determine permeability in the different flow regions.
Project end date: 01/26/07