AIMS Bioengineering, 2017, 4(4): 402-417. doi: 10.3934/bioeng.2017.4.402

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Development of an automated chip culture system with integrated on-line monitoring for maturation culture of retinal pigment epithelial cells

1 Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, 2-1 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan
2 Shimadzu Co., 1, Nishinokyo Kuwabara-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8511, Japan
3 Micronix, Inc., 24-1, Shinarami, Tai, Kuse-gun, Kumiyama-cho 613-0036, Japan

In cell manufacturing, the establishment of a fully automated, microfluidic, cell culture system that can be used for long-term cell cultures, as well as for process optimization is highly desirable. This study reports the development of a novel chip bioreactor system that can be used for automated long-term maturation cultures of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. The system consists of an incubation unit, a medium supply unit, a culture observation unit, and a control unit. In the incubation unit, the chip contains a closed culture vessel (2.5 mm diameter, working volume 9.1 μL), which can be set to 37 °C and 5% CO2, and uses a gas-permeable resin (poly- dimethylsiloxane) as the vessel wall. RPE cells were seeded at 5.0 × 104 cells/cm2 and the medium was changed every day by introducing fresh medium using the medium supply unit. Culture solutions were stored either in the refrigerator or the freezer, and fresh medium was prepared before any medium change by warming to 37 °C and mixing. Automated culture was allowed to continue for 30 days to allow maturation of the RPE cells. This chip culture system allows for the long-term, bubble-free, culture of RPE cells, while also being able to observe cells in order to elucidate their cell morphology or show the presence of tight junctions. This culture system, along with an integrated on-line monitoring system, can therefore be applied to long-term cultures of RPE cells, and should contribute to process control in RPE cell manufacturing.
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