Engineering and Characterization of a Biomimetic Microchip for Differentiating Mouse Adipocytes in a 3D Microenvironment

Yu ting Chen, Latha Ramalingam, Celine R. Garcia, Zhenya Ding, Jiangyu Wu, Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Wei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although two-dimensional (2D) cell cultures are the standard in cell research, one pivotal disadvantage is the lack of cell–cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) signaling in the culture milieu. However, such signals occur in three-dimensional (3D) in vivo environments and are essential for cell differentiation, proliferation, and a range of cellular functions. In this study, we developed a microfluidic device to proliferate and differentiate functional adipose tissue and adipocytes by utilizing 3D cell culture technology. This device was used to generate a tissue-specific 3D microenvironment to differentiate 3T3-L1 preadipocytes into either visceral white adipocytes using visceral adipose tissue (VAT) or subcutaneous white adipose tissue (SAT). The microchip has been tested and validated by functional assessments including cell morphology, inflammatory response to a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge, GLUT4 tracking, and gene expression analyses. The biomimetic microfluidic chip is expected to mimic functional adipose tissues that can replace 2D cell cultures and allow for more accurate analysis of adipose tissue physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • 3D Cell Culture
  • Adipocyte differentiation
  • Adipocytes
  • Adipose tissue
  • Microfluidics
  • Organ-on-a-Chip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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