Monday, November 9, 2015: 12:50 PM
Ballroom H (Salt Palace Convention Center)
The “Blood Brain Barrier” (BBB), surrounding the capillaries in the Central Nervous System, is a tissue composed of endothelial cells joined to each other by tight junctions. It serves to impede the passage of any impurities from the blood to the brain and is essential to brain homeostasis, disruption of which can result in a myriad of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Current in-vitro models of the BBB include a seeded Transwell ® Membrane under static conditions, where the apical and basal side fluids do not exhibit dynamic flow and apply shear stress on the membrane. Being a simplified model of the tissue, it does not adequately model the tissue as it is in-vivo, where there is dynamic flow of both basal (cerebrospinal fluid) and apical (blood) fluids. Consequently, we have designed a microfluidics device, the μTRANS chip, to model the BBB under dynamic conditions, allowing us to study not only the tissue structure of the BBB but also the cellular level dynamics of it under different environmental conditions. Our initial results, revolving around the construction of the device, its characterization, and the biochemical/mechanical modulations of the tissue will be presented at the conference. In terms of construction, the device was built using a seeded Transwell ® membrane (consisting of a layer of human brain endothelial cells on the apical side and a layer of astrocytes on the basal side) inserted between two glass slides. Each of the glass slides served as a distinct chamber, containing two 3D printed micro-channels, interconnected by smaller micro-channels. The smaller channels were designed to allow for fluid exchange between the larger micro-channels. Gold electrodes were also built into the device to analyze the permeability of the BBB using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The channels, glass substrate layers, and Transwell ® Membrane were all placed into a 3D printed vacuum chamber as the final step in construction, in order to maintain contact between the different layers of the device during experimental modulations. The permeability characteristics of the BBB were studied using fluorescence and EIS, specifically in the form of transendothelial electrical resistance tests (TEER), under different biochemical and mechanical conditions, including varying levels of pH, shear stress, and nutrients. We believe that our ability to study the BBB in a dynamic environment allows us to not only accurately model the tissue under physiological conditions but to control its characteristics using biochemical and mechanical means.