An in vitro blood-brain barrier (BBB) model is useful for drug discovery and efficacy measurements because it is a simple and convenient model of the in vivo BBB. However, the conventional in vitro BBB model does not account for shear stress to endotherial cell (EC) layers although in vivo ECs are exposed by shear stress. To improve this deficiency, we applied a microfluidics technique to a conventional in vitro BBB model and constructed a new in vitro BBB model. First, we confirmed that ECs can survive and proliferate on a cross-linked collagen gel and on an agarose including microbeads decorated with collagen type IV (CIV). In addition, we found that the cross-linker 1-ethyl-3-carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) with N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) is less effective for EC proliferation than glutaraldehyde (GA), ethyleneglycol diglycidyl ether (EGDE), and agarose with microbeads. Applying a focused infrared laser, we fabricated microtunnels within the collagen gel, and we successfully cultured ECs on the inner tunnel wall. The results indicate the potential of gel microstructures for a microfluidic in vitro BBB model.
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