A microfluidic artery-on-a-chip to measure vascular contraction and dilation

A. Morss Clyne
University of Maryland,
United States

Keywords: lab-on-chip, blood pressure, artery-on-a-chip, microfluidics


Vasoconstriction and vasodilation are essential to blood pressure regulation and physiological responses in health and disease. Vascular contractility can be measured in humans in vivo and in animals ex vivo. Unfortunately, human studies require a skilled technician and have limited ability to vary physiological stimuli, whereas animal studies are time consuming and may have limited applicability to human vascular function. Our goal is to create a human artery-on-a-chip that constricts and dilates, which will enable researchers and pharmaceutical companies to quantify vascular health in response to a disease or drug stimulus. To create the artery-on-a-chip, we first circumferentially align contractile vascular smooth muscle cells around the inside of a hydrogel channel. We then line the vascular smooth muscle cells with a layer of endothelial cells and expose the artery-on-a-chip to steady laminar flow. Finally, we thoroughly validate the artery-on-a-chip by comparing it to ex vivo pressure myography of mouse vessels and in vivo human vasoreactivity data in healthy and diseased conditions. The device will help us better understand how diseases impact vascular health, as well as screen drugs for vascular toxicity.