Before microfluidic-based cell culture models can be practically utilized for bioassays, there is a need for a transitional cell culture technique that can improve conventional cell culture models. To address this, a hybrid cell culture system integrating an active cover lid and a multi-well microplate was proposed to achieve perfusion 3-D cell culture. In this system, a microfluidic-based pneumatically-driven liquid transport mechanism was integrated into the active cover lid to realize 6-unit culture medium perfusion. Experimental results revealed that the flow of culture medium could be pneumatically driven in a flow-rate uniform manner. We used the system to successfully perform a perfusion 3-D cell culture of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for up to 16 days. Moreover, we investigated the effects of various cell culture models on the physiology of MSCs. The physiological nature of MSCs can vary with respect to the cell culture model used. Using the perfusion 3-D cell culture format might affect the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. Overall, we have developed a cell culture system that can achieve multi-well microplate-based perfusion 3-D cell culture in an efficient, cost-effective, and userfriendly manner. These features could facilitate the widespread application of perfusion cell culture models for cell-based assays.
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