A high-throughput microfluidic method for fabricating aligned collagen fibrils to study Keratocyte behavior

Kevin H. Lam, Pouriska B. Kivanany, Kyle Grose, Nihan Yonet-Tanyeri, Nesreen Alsmadi, Victor D. Varner, W. Matthew Petroll, David W. Schmidtke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In vivo, keratocytes are surrounded by aligned type I collagen fibrils that are organized into lamellae. A growing body of literature suggests that the unique topography of the corneal stroma is an important regulator of keratocyte behavior. In this study we describe a microfluidic method to deposit aligned fibrils of type I collagen onto glass coverslips. This high-throughput method allowed for the simultaneous coating of up to eight substrates with aligned collagen fibrils. When these substrates were integrated into a PDMS microwell culture system they provided a platform for high-resolution imaging of keratocyte behavior. Through the use of wide-field fluorescence and differential interference contrast microscopy, we observed that the density of collagen fibrils deposited was dependent upon both the perfusion shear rate of collagen and the time of perfusion. In contrast, a similar degree of fibril alignment was observed over a range of shear rates. When primary normal rabbit keratocytes (NRK) were seeded on substrates with a high density of aligned collagen fibrils and cultured in the presence of platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) the keratocytes displayed an elongated cell body that was co-aligned with the underlying collagen fibrils. In contrast, when NRK were cultured on substrates with a low density of aligned collagen fibrils, the cells showed no preferential orientation. These results suggest that this simple and inexpensive method can provide a general platform to study how simultaneous exposure to topographical and soluble cues influence cell behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number99
JournalBiomedical Microdevices
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Aligned
  • Collagen
  • Fibrils
  • Keratocytes
  • Microfluidic
  • PDMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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