High-throughput deterministic pairing and coculturing of single cells in a microwell array using combined hydrodynamic and recirculation flow captures

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Original languageEnglish
Article number054103
Journal / PublicationBiomicrofluidics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021



Single-cell level coculture facilitates the study of cellular interactions for uncovering unknown physiological mechanisms, which are crucial for the development of new therapies for diseases. However, efficient approaches for high-throughput deterministic pairing of single cells and traceable coculture remain lacking. In this study, we report a new microfluidic device, which combines hydrodynamic and recirculation flow captures, to achieve high-throughput and deterministic pairing of single cells in a microwell array for traceable coculture. Compared with the existing techniques, the developed device exhibits advantages with regard to pairing efficiency, throughput, determinacy, and traceability. Through repeating a two-step method, which sequentially captures single cells in a meandering channel and a microwell array, cell number and type can be easily controlled. Double and triple single-cell pairings have been demonstrated with an efficiency of 72.2% and 38.0%, respectively. Cellular engulfment using two breast cell lines is investigated on a developed microfluidic chip as a biological case study, in which the morphological characteristics and the incidence rate are analyzed. This research provides an efficient and reliable alternative for the coculture of single cells on the microfluidic platform for various biomedical applications, such as studying cellular engulfment and tumor sphere formation under single-cell pairing condition.

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