Bone Chip System to Monitor Osteogenic Differentiation Using Optical Imaging

Published in: Microfluidics and Nanofluidics


Human organoids and Organ-on-Chip systems to predict human responses to new therapies and for the understanding of disease mechanisms are being more commonly used in translational research. We have developed a bone-chip system to study osteogenic differentiation in vitro, coupled with optical imaging approach which provides the opportunity of monitoring cell survival, proliferation and differentiation in vitro without the need to terminate the culture. We used the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) line over-expressing bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), under Tet-Off system, and luciferase reporter gene under constitutive promoter. Cells were seeded on chips and supplemented with osteogenic medium. Flow of media was started 24 h later, while static cultures were performed using media reservoirs. Cells grown on the bone-chips under constant flow of media showed enhanced survival/proliferation, comparing to the cells grown in static conditions; luciferase reporter gene expression and activity, reflecting the cell survival and proliferation, was quantified using bioluminescence imaging and a significant advantage to the flow system was observed. In addition, the flow had positive effect on osteogenic differentiation, when compared with static cultures. Quantitative fluorescent imaging, performed using the osteogenic extra-cellular matrix-targeted probes, showed higher osteogenic differentiation of the cells under the flow conditions. Gene expression analysis of osteogenic markers confirmed the osteogenic differentiation of the MSC-BMP2 cells. Immunofluorescent staining performed against the Osteocalcin, Col1, and BSP markers illustrated robust osteogenic differentiation in the flow culture and lessened differentiation in the static culture. To sum, the bone-chip allows monitoring cell survival, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation using optical imaging.