In recent years, microfluidic devices have emerged as a platform in which to culture tissue for various applications such as drug discovery, toxicity testing, and fundamental investigations of cell-cell interactions. We examine the transport phenomena associated with gradients of soluble factors and oxygen in a microfluidic device for co-culture. This work focuses on emulating conditions known to be important in sustaining a viable culture of cells. Critical parameters include the flow and the resulting shear stresses, the transport of various soluble factors throughout the flow media, and the mechanical arrangement of the cells in the device. Using analytical models derived from first principles, we investigate interactions between flow conditions and transport in a microfluidic device. A particular device of interest is a bilayer configuration in which critical solutes such as oxygen are delivered through the media into one channel, transported across a nanoporous membrane, and consumed by cells cultured in another. The ability to control the flow conditions in this membrane bilayer device to achieve sufficient oxygenation without shear damage is shown to be superior to the case present in a single channel system. Using the results of these analyses, a set of criteria that characterize the geometric and transport properties of a robust microfluidic device are provided.
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Inamdar, N., Griffith, L. & Borenstein, J.T. Transport Model for Microfluidic Device for Cell Culture and Tissue Development. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1299, 917 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.467