Multiplexed microfluidic platform for stem-cell derived pancreatic islet β cells

Goswami I, de Klerk E, Carnese P, Hebrok M, Healy KE.
Preprint from
23 May 2022


Stem-cell derived β cells offer an alternative to primary islets for biomedical discoveries as well as a potential surrogate for islet transplantation. The expense and challenge of obtaining and maintaining functional stem-cell derived β cells calls for a need to develop better high-content and high-throughput culture systems. Microphysiological systems (MPS) are promising high-content in vitro platforms, but scaling for high-throughput screening and discoveries remain a challenge. Traditionally, simultaneous multiplexing of liquid handling and cell loading poses a challenge in the design of high-throughput MPS. Furthermore, although MPS for islet beta culture/testing have been developed, studies on multi-day culture of stem-cell derived β cells in MPS have been limited. We present a scalable, multiplexed islet beta MPS device that incorporates microfluidic gradient generators to parallelize fluid handling for culture and test conditions. We demonstrated the viability and functionality of the stem-cell derived enriched β clusters (eBCs) for a week, as assessed by the ~2 fold insulin release by the clusters to glucose challenge. To show the scalable multiplexing for drug testing, we demonstrated the exhaustion of eBC insulin reserve after long term exposure to logarithmic concentration range of glybenclamide. The MPS cultured eBCs also revealed a glycolytic bottleneck as inferred by insulin secretion responses to metabolites methyl succinate and glyceric acid. Thus, we present an innovative culture platform for eBCs with a balance of high-content and high-throughput characteristics.