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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Microfluidic Strategies for Understanding the Mechanics of Cells and Cell-Mimetic Systems

  • Author(s): Dahl, JB
  • Lin, JMG
  • Muller, SJ
  • Kumar, S
  • et al.

© 2015 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Microfluidic systems are attracting increasing interest for the high-throughput measurement of cellular biophysical properties and for the creation of engineered cellular microenvironments. Here we review recent applications of microfluidic technologies to the mechanics of living cells and synthetic cell-mimetic systems. We begin by discussing the use of microfluidic devices to dissect the mechanics of cellular mimics, such as capsules and vesicles. We then explore applications to circulating cells, including erythrocytes and other normal blood cells, and rare populations with potential disease diagnostic value, such as circulating tumor cells. We conclude by discussing how microfluidic devices have been used to investigate the mechanics, chemotaxis, and invasive migration of adherent cells. In these ways, microfluidic technologies represent an increasingly important toolbox for investigating cellular mechanics and motility at high throughput and in a format that lends itself to clinical translation.

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