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Keywords:

  • microfluidics;
  • platelet adhesion;
  • well plate;
  • high throughput;
  • shear

Abstract

The study of platelet behavior in real-time under controlled shear stress offers insights into the underlying mechanisms of many vascular diseases and enables evaluation of platelet-focused therapeutics. The two most common methods used to study platelet behavior at the vessel wall under uniform shear flow are parallel plate flow chambers and cone-plate viscometers. Typically, these methods are difficult to use, lack experimental flexibility, provide low data content, are low in throughput, and require large reagent volumes. Here, we report a well plate microfluidic (WPM)-based system that offers high throughput, low reagent consumption, and high experimental flexibility in an easy to use well plate format. The system consists of well plates with an integrated array of microfluidic channels, a pneumatic interface, an automated microscope, and software. This WPM system was used to investigate dynamic platelet behavior under shear stress. Multiple channel designs are presented and tested for shear loads with whole blood to determine their applicability to study thrombus formation. Normal physiological shear (0.1–20 dyn/cm2) and pathological shear (20–200 dyn/cm2) devices were used to study platelet behavior in vitro under various shear, matrix coating, and monolayer conditions. The high physiological relevance, low blood consumption, and increased throughput create a valuable technique available to vascular biology researchers. The approach also has extensibility to other research areas including inflammation, cancer biology, and developmental/stem cell research. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2011;108: 2978–2987. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.