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Microfluidic Control of Hypoxia Aids Investigations of Islet Pathophysiology

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Hypoxia is a prevalent factor regulating numerous biological processes; and of specific interest here, hypoxia is a complication in clinical procedures such as islet transplantation. Recently, temporal oscillations between hypoxia and normoxia, termed intermittent hypoxia (IH), have shown “preconditioning” benefits to pancreatic islets [1-3]. In islet physiology, effects of static and transient hypoxia have not been well-understood or studied, primarily due to a lack of appropriate tools to control islet microenvironments. Addressing this gap of knowledge, this review will discuss the following points: 1) Discussion of the physiological and pathophysiological states of islet oxygenation will illustrate a significant diffusion limitation imposed on isolated islets. 2) Brief survey of current islet hypoxia studies will uncover the need for a microscaled oxygen modulation technique. 3) Novel microfluidic methods will be introduced that can manipulate oxygen microenvironments. 4) A technique based on microfluidics will be shown to precondition islets via intermittent hypoxia. The view of hypoxia as a key parameter in islet and transplant physiology is expanding. Our message here is that microscaled tools and techniques have developed to a level capable of experimentally addressing this increasingly important view on hypoxia.

Keywords: Hypoxia; Islets; Microfluidics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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  • Micro and Nanosystems publish significant original work, topical reviews and guest edited issues ranging from technologies and systems to product innovation and new manufacturing processes with features at the micro and nanoscale. Applications for micro and nanosystems in areas such as health, environmental, food, security and consumer goods will be covered. The topics to be addressed will include Lab-on-a-chip, microfluidics, nano-biotechnology, micro and nanomanufacturing, printed electronics and MEMS.
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