Leveraging the elastic deformability of polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic channels for efficient intracellular delivery
Lab on a Chip
Royal Society of Chemistry
714 - 726
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With the rapid development of microfluidic based cell therapeutics systems, the need arises for compact, modular, and microfluidics-compatible intracellular delivery platforms with small footprints and minimal operational requirements. Physical deformation of cells passing through a constriction in a microfluidic channel has been shown to create transient membrane perturbations that allow passive diffusion of materials from the outside to the interior of the cell. This mechanical approach to intracellular delivery is simple to implement and fits the criteria outlined above. However, available microfluidic platforms that operate through this mechanism are traditionally constructed from rigid channels with fixed dimensions that suffer from irreversible clogging and incompatibility with larger size distributions of cells. Here we report a flexible and elastically deformable microfluidic channel, and we leverage this elasticity to dynamically generate temporary constrictions with any given size within the channel width parameters. Additionally, clogging is prevented by increasing the size of the constriction momentarily to allow clogs to pass. By tuning the size of the constriction appropriately, we show the successful delivery of GFP-coding plasmids to the interior of three mammalian cell lines and fluorescent gold nanoparticles to HEK293 FT cells all the while maintaining a high cell viability rate. We also demonstrate the device capabilities by systematically identifying the optimum constriction size that maximizes the intracellular delivery efficiency of FITC-dextran for three different cell lines. This development will no doubt lead to miniaturized intracellular delivery microfluidic components that can be easily integrated into larger lab-on-a-chip systems for future cell modification devices.