3D-printable cell crowding device enables imaging of live cells in compression
Liam P. Dow, Aimal H. Khankhel, John Abram, and Megan T. Valentine. BioTechniques 68(5) 275-278 (2020)
We designed and fabricated, using low-cost 3D printing technologies, a device that enables direct control of cell density in epithelial monolayers. The device operates by varying the tension of a silicone substrate upon which the cells are adhered. Multiple devices can be manufactured easily and placed in any standard incubator. This allows long-term culturing of cells on pretensioned substrates until the user decreases the tension, thereby inducing compressive forces in plane and subsequent instantaneous cell crowding. Moreover, the low-profile device is completely portable and can be mounted directly onto an inverted optical microscope. This enables visualization of the morphology and dynamics of living cells in stretched or compressed conditions using a wide range of high-resolution microscopy techniques.