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Image-Assisted Microvessel-on-a-Chip Platform for Studying Cancer Cell Transendothelial Migration Dynamics.

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Bertulli, Cristina 
Gerigk, Magda 
Piano, Nicholas 
Liu, Ye 


With the push to reduce in vivo approaches, the demand for microphysiological models that recapitulate the in vivo settings in vitro is dramatically increasing. Here, we present an extracellular matrix-integrated microfluidic chip with a rounded microvessel of ~100 µm in diameter. Our system displays favorable characteristics for broad user adaptation: simplified procedure for vessel creation, minimised use of reagents and cells, and the ability to couple live-cell imaging and image analysis to study dynamics of cell-microenvironment interactions in 3D. Using this platform, the dynamic process of single breast cancer cells (LM2-4175) exiting the vessel lumen into the surrounding extracellular matrix was tracked. Here, we show that the presence of endothelial lining significantly reduced the cancer exit events over the 15-hour imaging period: there were either no cancer cells exiting, or the fraction of spontaneous exits was positively correlated with the number of cancer cells in proximity to the endothelial barrier. The capability to map the z-position of individual cancer cells within a 3D vessel lumen enabled us to observe cancer cell transmigration 'hot spot' dynamically. We also suggest the variations in the microvessel qualities may lead to the two distinct types of cancer transmigration behaviour. Our findings provide a tractable in vitro model applicable to other areas of microvascular research.



Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Endothelial Cells, Extracellular Matrix, Female, Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells, Humans, Microfluidics, Microvessels, Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration, Tumor Microenvironment

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M018989/1)
European Research Council (758865)