Cell Sequence and Mitosis Affect Fibroblast Directional Decision-Making During Chemotaxis in Microfluidic Mazes

Quang Long Pham, Lydia N. Rodrigues, Max A. Maximov, Vishnu Deep Chandran, Cheng Bi, David Chege, Timothy Dijamco, Elisabeth Stein, Nhat Anh Nguyen Tong, Sagnik Basuray, Roman S. Voronov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Directed fibroblast migration is central to highly proliferative processes in regenerative medicine and developmental biology. However, the mechanisms by which single fibroblasts affect each other’s directional decisions, while chemotaxing in microscopic pores, are not well understood. Methods: We explored effects of cell sequence and mitosis on fibroblast platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB)-induced migration in microfluidic mazes with two possible through paths: short and long. Additionally, image-based modeling of the chemoattractant’s diffusion, consumption and decay, was used to explain the experimental observations. Results: It both cases, the cells displayed behavior that is contradictory to expectation based on the global chemoattractant gradient pre-established in the maze. In case of the sequence, the cells tend to alternate when faced with a bifurcation: if a leading cell takes the shorter (steeper gradient) path, the cell following it chooses the longer (weaker gradient) path, and vice versa. Image-based modeling of the process showed that the local PDGF-BB consumption by the individual fibroblasts may be responsible for this phenomenon. Additionally, it was found that when a mother cell divides, its two daughters go in opposite directions (even if it means migrating against the chemoattractant gradient and overcoming on-going cell traffic). Conclusions: It is apparent that micro-confined fibroblasts modify each other’s directional decisions in a manner that is counter-intuitive to what is expected from classical chemotaxis theory. Consequently, accounting for these effects could lead to a better understanding of tissue generation in vivo, and result in more advanced engineered tissue products in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-494
Number of pages12
JournalCellular and Molecular Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


  • Chemotaxis
  • Confinement
  • Diffusion
  • Division
  • Fibroblast
  • Gradient
  • Migration
  • Modeling
  • Proliferation


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