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Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

ISSN Print: 0892-0915

Archives: Volume 10, 1996 to Volume 20, 2008

Critical Reviews™ in Neurobiology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevNeurobiol.v17.i3-4.10
pages 119-144

Microfluidic Techniques for Studying the Nervous System

Pamela G. Gross
Department of Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033-4606
Leslie P. Weiner
Department of Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033-4606
Emil P. Kartalov
Department of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033-4606
Axel Scherer
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125-3600

ABSTRACT

Recent advances in micro- and nano-fabrication techniques have led to the development of microfluidic platforms designed for in vitro biological studies. Based on their capability of precise control of the environment surrounding individual cells, these microfluidic platforms have been increasingly utilized to investigate physiologic responses at the single-cell level. It is likely that these devices will continue to gain popularity as a tool to study the behavior of individual cells as they are exposed to extrinsic agents and other cells. This article reviews microfluidic technology and its application to single-cell research, with emphasis on advances that are particularly useful for neuronal studies, such as platforms with patterned physical and chemical cues, integrated electrophysiology and other sensors, architecture for isolation of axons, and delivery of precisely controlled chemical factors.