Application: Adding a New Dimension to Your Migration Assays

Use of Transwells for migration experiments have shown that these static assays are difficult to use, often have repeatability issues, and do not provide as much quantitative data as desired.

Imagine an assay which is repeatable, simple to use, provides real-time live cell imaging and gives data which matches in vivo observations. SynVivo has overcome the limitations of Transwell® assays to provide an entirely new system for studying migration in a realistic and dynamic environment.

By emulating a histological slice of co-cultured tumor or tissue cells with lumen of endothelial cells, the SynVivo platform delivers a physiologically realistic model including flow and shear in a platform which enables real-time tracking of migration processes.


The SynVivo microfluidic chip design provides a realistic system including:

  • Physiological shear stress within a microvascular environment
  • In vivo like vascular morphology with fully enclosed lumen
  • Co-culture capability for cell-cell interactions
  • Quantitative real-time rolling, adhesion, and migration data from a single experiment

SynVivo enables assessment of cellular interactions comprising of rolling, adhesion and migration through multiple cellular layers in one experiment, in real-time, and represents data closely correlated with in vivo results.

Depending on research needs you can select from “idealized” or “network” configurations.

Idealized Configuration:


Network Configuration:

Say goodbye to your Transwell®. SynVivo provides the added capabilities of shear and cell signaling through co-cultures to recreate a more in vivo like solution with real time live cell imaging and robust quantitation to obtain dynamic high-content data.


Modes of Operation

Static Cultures

single cell migration video
Similar to a Transwell but with advantages of real-time visualization, quantitation of migration rate, repeatability, ease-of-use, and ultra-low reagent use.Cells are incubated in the vascular channel and chemoattractant is injected into the tissue chamber or the second vascular channel. Migration of cells across the engineered porous region into the tissue chamber is observed in real-time. For a more representative condition observed in vivo, endothelial cells are cultured in the vascular channel followed by migration of desired cells (e.g. white blood cells, tumor cells) across the endothelium into the tissue chamber in response to a chemoattractant. Endothelial cells can also be activated with biological or chemical agents to produce an inflammatory response.

Mono-culture with Flow

mono culture with flow video Same advantages as above plus addition of physiological phenomena of rolling and adhesion to the migration assay.Cells are injected into the vascular channels under constant flow conditions and their migration is quantified across the barrier with or without the presence of endothelial cells. Specifically, entire cascades of cell-cell interactions such as leukocyte adhesion cascade comprising of rolling, adhesion and migration can be observed and quantified in real time. Similar studies can be performed with tumor cells also.

Co-culture with Flow

Co-culture with Flow
Same advantages as above plus addition of cell-cell interactions and migration through multiple cellular layers.Endothelial cells are cultured in vascular channel while tissue chamber houses smooth muscle cells, epithelial cells, fibroblast or organ specific cells (e.g. astrocytes, hepatocytes). In response to a cellular signaling, migration across the sequential layers can be observed and quantified in real-time.


Data Examples

In a recently published study1, Prof. Kiani’s group at Temple University used SynVivo® microfluidic chips comprising of realistic microvascular networks to understand the role of classical inhibitors of individual steps of the leukocyte adhesion cascade. Results obtained from SynVivo matched very well with in vivo data highlighting the unique ability of the platform for real-time analysis of these dynamic events in a morphologically realistic environment.

Migration Data
cell migration video


  1. Bioinspired Microfluidic Assay for In Vitro Modeling of Leukocyte–Endothelium Interactions. G. Lamberti, B. Prabhakarpandian, C. Garson, A. Smith, K. Pant, B. Wang, and M.F. Kiani. Anal. Chem., 2014, 86 (16), pp 8344–8351. doi:10.1021/ac5018716


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