Microfluidic in vitro lung model for the replacement of murine infection and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) models

PD Dr. Christoph Beißwenger,
Universität des Saarlandes, Homburg/Saar

Prof. Dr. Heiko Zimmermann,
Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik, Sulzbach


Microfluidic in vitro lung models will help to reduce and replace the need for animal studies in drug development and in basic research.

Inflammatory cells (e.g. neutrophils) contribute to the loss of lung structure and lung function in lung diseases, such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and cystic fibrosis. This project aims to develop a microfluidic lung-chip system that allows studying the recruitment of neutrophils from the blood stream into the lung. An epithelial/endothelial barrier will be established with human endothelial and epithelial cells and the circulation of neutrophils in the blood stream will be simulated. The microfluidic system will allow a detailed biological analysis of the neutrophil recruitment into the lung tissue during infection and systemic inflammation. Moreover, the pharmacological inhibition of the neutrophil recruitment will be studied in the microfluidic lung-chip system.

The results obtained with the system will allow to improve the prediction of the situation in humans as compared to animal studies. With respect to animal studies the system has crucial advantages: first of all less animals will be used in animal studies. The costs and time needed for the tests are clearly lower. The translation into the human situation is directly possible as human cells will be used.

The miniaturized modular, microfluidic lung-chip system will significantly reduce the numbers of animal studies in the development of drugs that block the recruitment of neutrophils into the lung.

Fig. 1:   Schematic presentation of the microfluidic lung-chip system.
The microfluidic chip has pore membranes and electrodes in the fluidic channels to measure the impedance. The cells will be cultivated under fluidic conditions.


Universität des Saarlandes - Innere Medizin V
Geb. 61.4, 66421 Homburg/Saar

Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik IBMT
Joseph-von-Fraunhofer-Weg 1, 66280 Sulzbach


03/2018 - 08/2019