Arrayed three-dimensional (3D) micro-sized tissues with encapsulated cells (microtissues) have been fabricated by a droplet microfluidic chip. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a polymerized collagen network. One or multiple breast cancer cells were embedded within the microtissues, which were stored in arrayed microchambers on the same chip without ECM droplet shrinkage over 48 h. The migration trajectory of the cells was recorded by optical microscopy. The migration speed was calculated in the range of 3–6 µm/h. Interestingly, cells in devices filled with a continuous collagen network migrated faster than those where only droplets were arrayed in the chambers. This is likely due to differences in the length scales of the ECM network, as cells embedded in thin collagen slabs also migrate slower than those in thick collagen slabs. In addition to migration, this technical platform can be potentially used to study cancer cell-stromal cell interactions and ECM remodeling in 3D tumor-mimicking environments.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ian_schneider/16/