Study on the expansion dynamics of mdck epithelium by interstitial flow using a traction force-measurable microfluidic chip

Mirim Kim, Hwanseok Jang, Yongdoo Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The movement of collective cells is affected through changes in physical interactions of cells in response to external mechanical stimuli, including fluid flow. Most tissues are affected by fluid flow at the interstitial level, but few studies have investigated the physical effects in collective cells affected by a low flow rate. In this study, collective cell migration of Madin–Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells was investigated under static or interstitial flow (0, 0.1, and 1 μL/min) using a traction microfluidic device. The optimization of calculation of cellular traction forces was first achieved by changing interrogation window size from the fluorescent bead images. Migration analysis of cell collectives patterned with a 700 μm circular shape reveals that cells under the slow flow (0.1 and 1 μL/min) showed the inhibitory migration by decreasing cell island size and cellular speed compared to that of static condition. Analysis of cellular forces shows that level of traction forces was lower in the slow flow condition (~20 Pa) compared to that of static condition (~50 Pa). Interestingly, the standard deviation of traction force of cells was dramatically decreased as the flow rate increased from 0 to 1 μL/min, which indicates that flow affects the distribution of cellular traction forces among cell collectives. Cellular tension was increased by 50% in the cells under the fluid flow rate of 1 μL/min. Treatment of calcium blocker increased the migratory speed of cells under the flow condition, whereas there is little change of cellular forces. In conclusion, it has been shown that the interstitial flow inhibited the collective movement of epithelial cells by decreasing and re-distributing cellular forces. These findings provide insights into the study of the effect of interstitial flow on cellular behavior, such as development, regeneration, and morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number935
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIP) (No. NRF-2017R1E1A1A01075103 and NRF-2019M3D1A1078940).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Submitted for possible open access.


  • Collective cell migration
  • Fluid flow
  • MDCK
  • Microfluidics
  • Monolayer stress microscopy
  • Traction force microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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