In this study, we developed a microfluidic cell co-culture platform that permits individual manipulation of the microenvironment of different cell types. Separation of the cell culture chambers is controlled by changing the position of a microfabricated valve, which serves as a barrier between the chambers. This unique feature of our platform allowed us to maintain healthy co-cultures of hippocampal neurons and glia for several weeks under optimal conditions. Controlled fluidic exchange between the cell culture chambers provided neurons with a continuous supply of in situ conditioned glia media that was critical for their survival. Using the barrier valve, we transfected neurons in the adjacent chambers with green fluorescent protein (GFP) and mCherry cDNA, respectively, with a transfection efficiency of approximately 40%. Co-culture with glia further enhanced the transfection efficiency of neurons to almost 60%. Thus the microfluidic devices offer a novel platform for the long-term culture, transfection, and individual treatment of central nervous system cells.
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