Organs-on-chips, in vitro models involving the culture of (human) tissues inside microfluidic devices, are rapidly emerging and promise to provide useful research tools for studying human health and disease. To characterize the barrier function of cell layers cultured inside organ-on-chip devices, often transendothelial or transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) is measured. To this end, electrodes are usually integrated into the chip by micromachining methods to provide more stable measurements than is achieved with manual insertion of electrodes into the inlets of the chip. However, these electrodes frequently hamper visual inspection of the studied cell layer or require expensive cleanroom processes for fabrication. To overcome these limitations, the device described here contains four easily integrated electrodes that are placed and fixed outside of the culture area, making visual inspection possible. Using these four electrodes the resistance of six measurement paths can be quantified, from which the TEER can be directly isolated, independent of the resistance of culture medium-filled microchannels. The blood-brain barrier was replicated in this device and its TEER was monitored to show the device applicability. This chip, the integrated electrodes and the TEER determination method are generally applicable in organs-on-chips, both to mimic other organs or to be incorporated into existing organ-on-chip systems.
van der Helm, M. W., Odijk, M., Frimat, J-P., van der Meer, A. D., Eijkel, J. C. T., van den Berg, A., & Segerink, L. I. (2017). Fabrication and validation of an organ-on-chip system with integrated electrodes to directly quantify transendothelial electrical resistance. Journal of visualized experiments, 127, [e56334]. https://doi.org/10.3791/56334