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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Microinjection of Living Adherent Cells by Using a Semi-automatic Microinjection System


Katrin Viigipuu and Pasi Kallio

Testing in vitro is an alternative to animal experimentation. The capillary pressure microinjection technique is a supporting technology for efficient in vitro testing. The main benefit of the technique is the possibility of injecting large molecules into a single living cell. The ultimate goal of the research discussed in this paper is to increase the cell survival rate in capillary pressure microinjection. A method to reliably evaluate cell survival rate is therefore needed. A three-phase evaluation process is presented in this paper. The first phase determines the success rate of the injection capillary to penetrate the cell membrane. The second phase studies the success rate of delivering the injection substance inside the cell, while the third phase studies cell survival after the microinjection. In addition to the three-phase evaluation process, this paper describes the initial results of penetration and injection tests performed by using a semi-automatic capillary pressure microinjection system developed by the research group. Three adherent cell lines, namely, retinal pigment epithelial cells, MCF-7 human breast cancer cells and SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, were used in the experiments. The results of the penetration tests show that the average success rate of penetrating the cell membrane using the micromanipulator was 87%. The goal of the injection tests was to demonstrate the successful microinjection of living cells and to study the injection success rate. Fluorescein dextran was injected into MCF-7 cells, and preliminary results showed an injection success rate of 49%. In the survival tests, the neuronal cells were microinjected with KCl. During long-term observation after the microinjection, the microinjected cells first decreased their adhesion to the plate, but later adhered to the bottom of the plate and even grew some dendrites. In the next phase of the study, more tests will be performed in order to obtain a statistically reliable value for the survival rate.