Organs-on-chips are microphysiological in vitro models of human organs and tissues that rely on culturing cells in a well-controlled microenvironment that has been engineered to include key physical and biochemical parameters. Some systems contain a single perfused microfluidic channel or a patterned hydrogel, whereas more complex devices typically employ two or more microchannels that are separated by a porous membrane, simulating the tissue interface found in many organ subunits. The membranes are typically made of synthetic and biologically inert materials that are then coated with extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules to enhance cell attachment. However, the majority of the material remains foreign and fails to recapitulate the native microenvironment of the barrier tissue. Here, we study microfluidic devices that integrate a vitrified membrane made of collagen-I hydrogel (VC). The biocompatibility of this membrane was confirmed by growing a healthy population of stem cell derived endothelial cells (iPSC-EC) and immortalized retinal pigment epithelium (ARPE-19) on it and assessing morphology by fluorescence microscopy. Moreover, VC membranes were subjected to biochemical degradation using collagenase II. The effects of this biochemical degradation were characterized by the permeability changes to fluorescein. Topographical changes on the VC membrane after enzymatic degradation were also analyzed using scanning electron microscopy. Altogether, we present a dynamically bioresponsive membrane integrated in an organ-on-chip device with which disease-related ECM remodeling can be studied.
- vitrified collagen membrane