The cell microenvironment consists of multiple types of biophysical and biochemical factors, and represents a complex integrated system that is variable in both time and space. Studies show that changes in biochemical and biophysical factors in cell microenvironments result in significant changes in cellular forms and functions, especially for stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are derived from adult stem cells of the mesoderm and play an important role in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and even cancer therapy. Furthermore, it is found that MSCs can interact with multiple types of tumor cells. The interaction is reflected as two totally different aspects. The negative aspect is that MSCs manifest as tumor-associated fibroblasts and could induce migration of cancer cells and promote tumor formation. On the other hand, MSCs can home to sites of the tumor microenvironment, directionally migrate toward tumor cells and cause tumor cell apoptosis. In this study, we designed and made a simple microfluidic chip for cell co-culture, and studied stem cell homing behavior in the interaction between MSCs and liver cancer cells. Moreover, by etching a three-dimensional microstructure on the base and adding transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) in the co-culture environment, we studied the impact of biophysical and biochemical factors on stem cell homing behavior, and the causes of such impact.
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