Oxygen sensitive microwells
journal contributionposted on 29.04.2012, 00:00 by Elly Sinkala, David T. Eddington
Oxygen tension is critical in a number of cell pathways but is often overlooked in cell culture. One reason for this is the difficulty in modulating and assessing oxygen tensions without disturbing the culture conditions. Toward this end, a simple method to generate oxygen-sensitive microwells was developed through embossing polystyrene (PS) and platinum(II) octaethylporphyrin ketone (PtOEPK) thin films. In addition to monitoring the oxygen tension, microwells were employed in order to isolate uniform clusters of cells in microwells. The depth and width of the microwells can be adapted to different experimental parameters easily by altering the thin film processing or embossing stamp geometries. The thin oxygen sensitive microwell substrate is also compatible with high magnification modalities such as confocal imaging. The incorporation of the oxygen sensor into the microwells produces measurements of the oxygen tension near the cell surface. The oxygen sensitive microwells were calibrated and used to monitor oxygen tensions of Madin–Darby Canine Kidney Cells (MDCKs) cultured at high and low densities as a proof of concept. Wells 500 mm in diameter seeded with an average of 330 cells exhibited an oxygen level of 12.6% whereas wells seeded with an average of 20 cells per well exhibited an oxygen level of 19.5%, a 35.7% difference. This platform represents a new tool for culturing cells in microwells in a format amenable to high magnification imaging while monitoring the oxygen state of the culture media.