The advanced system they have designed integrates a human organ-on-chip model, effectively replicating the microenvironment of the human neurovascular unit. This is achieved through two parallel microchannels separated by a permeable, flexible membrane lined with human vascular endothelial cells, thus providing a three-dimensional interface between vascular and neural tissues. The developed neuroinflammation-on-a-chip system comprises a microfluidic-based neural cell culture model that emulates a typical neurovascular unit in vitro. This system comprises two parallel microchannels lined with human vascular endothelial cells and seeded with astrocytes and neurons. The developed neuroinflammation-on-a-chip system was applied to investigate neuroinflammation by injecting lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a potent inflammatory mediator, into one microchannel.

In this study, specialized aptamers, which have a selective affinity for pro-inflammatory cytokines, were utilized to quantify the concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines in real-time. In detail, first, reduced graphene oxide (rGO) was immobilized on the bottom channel, and fluorescent dye-tagged aptamers capable of selectively binding with pro-inflammatory cytokines were attached to the rGO through pi-pi interactions. Aptamers on the rGO are usually well attached to the rGO surface, but when the target pro-inflammatory cytokines come close, they detach from the rGO and bind to the pro-inflammatory cytokines by a competitive reaction. The outcomes of the sensing experiment revealed that the neuroinflammation-on-a-chip sensing module excelled in measuring pro-inflammatory cytokines, providing qualitative insights into their presence and dynamics.

Continued research endeavors are imperative to improve both the performance and dependability of the neuroinflammation-on-a-chip model. By refining this tool, we can delve deeper into unraveling the intricate mechanisms that drive brain inflammation. Such advancements will not only foster a more profound understanding of these processes but also pave the way for the creation of increasingly effective therapeutic interventions in the coming years.

PUBLICATION:  This work was recently published in Advanced Functional Materials, 2023,

AUTHORS: Jin-Ha Choi, Hye Kyu Choi, Ki-Bum Lee

CORRESPONDENCE: Prof. Ki-Bum Lee (Rutgers University),

Ki Bum Lee Ph     

KBLEE Group Team: Dr. Jin-Ha Choi, Dr. Hye Kyu Choi,

 Jin HaChoi

Hye Kyu Choi