Platform works with minute quantities of liquid to grow cells and study their development
A Freiburg-based research group has developed a microfluidic chip where more than one hundred apidose-derived adult stem cell cultures can grow and divide. In the human body, adipose tissue acts as a primary energy store.
Adult stem cells have the task of maintaining and regenerating this process. The researchers used the new lab-on-a-chip to study how adult stem cells in adipose tissue develop into mature fat cells, conducting their investigations outside the body. Previous experiments have enabled them to decode a signalling pathway involved in adipose cell maturation and to show that calories in the nutrient medium influence this process.
The team has published the results of its research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “Going forward, we want to investigate the environmental factors – particularly the nutrient conditions – that cause different adipose cell types to grow,” explains biophysicist Dr. Matthias Meier. “This will enable us to develop new approaches to combating obesity and diabetes.”
In contrast to embryonic stem cells, when adult stem cells divide, their offspring are only able to develop at the same site and in certain tissue types. Factors such as insulin and blood sugar levels also influence whether or not adult stem cells in adipose tissue will develop into mature adipose cell. Aberrations in this maturation process can lead to diabetes or obesity. The multitude of factors operating here make it very complicated, however, for scientists to investigate this process outside the body.
In order to overcome this problem, the Freiburg-based research group has developed a microfluidic chip that works with minute volumes of liquid: The platform uses microchannels to feed cell cultures with nutrients during their three-week growth period. A special feature of the set-up is an automatic protein analysis program integrated into the chip, which decodes signalling pathways during cell growth.
The new technology allows the researchers to vary the external cell factors such that the micro-environment on the chip resembles conditions within the body as closely as possible. This enabled adipose-derived adult stem cells to be successfully converted into mature fat cells within the experiments, and the corresponding signalling pathway mTORC1 was also decoded. “By increasing the calorie content in the nutrient medium, we were able to show that fat is stored more rapidly during maturation,” states Meier.
“However, it remains unclear whether adjusting the calorie levels in this way leads to an increased rate of adipose cell formation.” To answer this question, the research team now wants to systematically use the chip technology to study the association between human eating habits and the formation of fat cells.
Eight researchers were involved in the study: Matthias Blazek, Matthias Meier, Indranil Mitra, Alina Platen, Nils Schneider, Xuanye Wu and Prof. Dr. Roland Zengerle conduct research at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) and belong to the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies Cluster of Excellence at the University of Freiburg. Prof. Dr. Roland Schüle is the Scientific Director of the Centre for Clinical Research at Freiburg University Hospital.
Xuanye Wu, Nils Schneider, Alina Platen, Indranil Mitra, Matthias Blazek, Roland Zengerle, Roland Schüle and Matthias Meier (2016). In situ characterization of the mTORC1 during adipogenesis of human adult stem cells on chip. PNAS Early Edition. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1601207113
Dr. Matthias Meier
Institut für Mikrosystemtechnik
Phone: +49 (0)761 / 203 – 73241
Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel
Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News