Planar patch clamp has revolutionized characterization of ion channel behavior in drug discovery primarily via advancement in high throughput. Lab use of planar technology, however, addresses different requirements and suffers from inflexibility to enable wide range of interrogation via a single cell. This work presents integration of planar patch clamp with microfluidics, achieving multiple solution exchanges for tailor-specific measurement and allowing rapid replacement of the cell-contacting aperture. Studies via endogenously expressed ion channels in HEK 293T cells were commenced to characterize the device. Results reveal the microfluidic concentration generator produces distinct solution/drug combination/concentrations on-demand. Volume-regulated chloride channel and voltage-gated potassium channels in HEK 293T cells immersed in generated solutions under various osmolarities or drug concentrations show unique channel signature under specific condition. Excitation and blockage of ion channels in a single cell was demonstrated via serial solution exchange. Robustness of the reversible bonding and ease of glass substrate replacement were proven via repeated usage of the integrated device. The present approach reveals the capability and flexibility of integrated microfluidic planar patch-clamp system for ion channel assays. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2011; 108:1395–1403. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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