Hyaline cartilage is a specialized type of connective tissue that lines many moveable joints (articular cartilage) and contributes to bone growth (growth plate cartilage). Hyaline cartilage is composed of a single cell type, the chondrocyte, which produces a unique hydrated matrix to resist compressive stress. Although compressive stress has profound effects on transcriptional networks and matrix biosynthesis in chondrocytes, mechanistic relationships between strain, signal transduction, cell metabolism, and matrix production remain superficial. Here, we describe development and validation of a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based pneumatic microfluidic cell compression device which generates multiple compression conditions in a single platform. The device contained an array of PDMS balloons of different sizes which were actuated by pressurized air, and the balloons compressed chondrocytes cells in alginate hydrogel constructs. Our characterization and testing of the device showed that the developed platform could compress chondrocytes with various magnitudes simultaneously with negligible effect on cell viability. Also, the device is compatible with live cell imaging to probe early effects of compressive stress, and it can be rapidly dismantled to facilitate molecular studies of compressive stress on transcriptional networks. Therefore, the proposed device will enhance the productivity of chondrocyte mechanobiology studies, and it can be applied to study mechanobiology of other cell types.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering