Reconfigurable microfluidics with integrated aptasensors for monitoring intercellular communication

Timothy Kwa, Qing Zhou, Yandong Gao, Ali Rahimian, Lydia Kwon, Ying Liu, Alexander Revzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We report the development of a microsystem integrating anti-TNF-α aptasensors with vacuum-actuatable microfluidic devices that may be used to monitor intercellular communications. Actuatable chambers were used to expose to mitogen a group of ~600 cells while not stimulating another group of monocytes only 600 μm away. Co-localizing groups of cells with miniature 300 μm diameter aptamer-modified electrodes enabled monitoring of TNF-α release from each group independently. The microsystem allowed observation of the sequence of events that included 1) mitogenic activation of the first group of monocytes to produce TNF-α, 2) diffusion of TNF-α to the location of the second group of cells and 3) activation of the second group of cells resulting in the production of TNF-α by these cells. Thus, we were able to experimentally verify reciprocal paracrine crosstalk between the two groups of cells secreting the same signalling molecule. Given the prevalence of such cellular communications during injury, cancer or immune response and the dearth of available monitoring techniques, the microsystem described here is envisioned to have significant impact on cell biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1695-1704
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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