Label-Free Magnetic-Field-Assisted Assembly of Layer-on-Layer Cellular Structures
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Controlled cell assembly is essential for fabricating in vitro 3D models that mimic the physiology of in vivo cellular architectures. Whereas tissue engineering techniques often rely on intrusive magnetic nanoparticles placed in cells and hydrogel encapsulation of cells to produce multilayered cellular constructs, we describe a high-throughput, label-free, and scaffold-free magnetic field-guided technique that assembles cells into a layered aggregate. An inhomogeneous magnetic field influences the diamagnetic cells suspended in a paramagnetic culture medium. Driven by the magnetic susceptibility difference and the field gradient, the cells are displaced toward the region of lowest field strength. Two cell lines are used to demonstrate the sequential assembly of layer-on-layer aggregates in microwells within 6 h. The effect of magnet size on the assembly dynamics is characterized and a microwell size criterion for the highest cell aggregation provided. Label-free magnetic-field-assisted assembly is relevant for on-demand scalable biofabrication of complex layered structures. Potential applications include drug discovery, developmental biology, lab-on-chip devices, and cancer research.
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