Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35179881
Link to DOI – 10.1021/acs.chemrev.1c00666
Chem Rev 2022 Apr; 122(7): 7061-7096
Cell manipulation in droplets has emerged as one of the great successes of microfluidic technologies, with the development of single-cell screening. However, the droplet format has also served to go beyond single-cell studies, namely by considering the interactions between different cells or between cells and their physical or chemical environment. These studies pose specific challenges linked to the need for long-term culture of adherent cells or the diverse types of measurements associated with complex biological phenomena. Here we review the emergence of droplet microfluidic methods for culturing cells and studying their interactions. We begin by characterizing the quantitative aspects that determine the ability to encapsulate cells, transport molecules, and provide sufficient nutrients within the droplets. This is followed by an evaluation of the biological constraints such as the control of the biochemical environment and promoting the anchorage of adherent cells. This first part ends with a description of measurement methods that have been developed. The second part of the manuscript focuses on applications of these technologies for cancer studies, immunology, and stem cells while paying special attention to the biological relevance of the cellular assays and providing guidelines on improving this relevance.