One-Stop Microfluidic Assembly of Human Brain Organoids to Model Prenatal Cannabis Exposure

Zheng Ao, Hongwei Cai, Daniel J. Havert, Zhuhao Wu, Zhiyi Gong, John M. Beggs, Ken Mackie, Feng Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) influences human brain development, but it is challenging to model PCE using animals and current cell culture techniques. Here, we developed a one-stop microfluidic platform to assemble and culture human cerebral organoids from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to investigate the effect of PCE on early human brain development. By incorporating perfusable culture chambers, air-liquid interface, and one-stop protocol, this microfluidic platform can simplify the fabrication procedure and produce a large number of organoids (169 organoids per 3.5 cm × 3.5 cm device area) without fusion, as compared with conventional fabrication methods. These one-stop microfluidic assembled cerebral organoids not only recapitulate early human brain structure, biology, and electrophysiology but also have minimal size variation and hypoxia. Under on-chip exposure to the psychoactive cannabinoid, Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cerebral organoids exhibited reduced neuronal maturation, downregulation of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) receptors, and impaired neurite outgrowth. Moreover, transient on-chip THC treatment also decreased spontaneous firing in these organoids. This one-stop microfluidic technique enables a simple, scalable, and repeatable organoid culture method that can be used not only for human brain organoids but also for many other human organoids including liver, kidney, retina, and tumor organoids. This technology could be widely used in modeling brain and other organ development, developmental disorders, developmental pharmacology and toxicology, and drug screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4630-4638
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 17 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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