Barrier-on-a-chip with a modular architecture and integrated sensors for real-time measurement of biological barrier function

Patrícia Zoio, Sara Lopes-Ventura, Abel Oliva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Biological barriers are essential for the maintenance of organ homeostasis and their dys-function is responsible for many prevalent diseases. Advanced in vitro models of biological barriers have been developed through the combination of 3D cell culture techniques and organ-on-chip (OoC) technology. However, real-time monitoring of tissue function inside the OoC devices has been challenging, with most approaches relying on off-chip analysis and imaging techniques. In this study, we designed and fabricated a low-cost barrier-on-chip (BoC) device with integrated electrodes for the development and real-time monitoring of biological barriers. The integrated electrodes were used to measure transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) during tissue culture, thereby quantitatively evaluating tissue barrier function. A finite element analysis was performed to study the sensitivity of the integrated electrodes and to compare them with conventional systems. As proof-of-concept, a full-thickness human skin model (FTSm) was grown on the developed BoC, and TEER was measured on-chip during the culture. After 14 days of culture, the barrier tissue was challenged with a bench-mark irritant and its impact was evaluated on-chip through TEER measurements. The developed BoC with an integrated sensing capability represents a promising tool for real-time assessment of barrier function in the context of drug testing and disease modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number816
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Barrier tissue
  • Barrier-on-chip
  • Organ-on-chip
  • Reconstructed skin model
  • Skin-on-chip
  • Transepithelial electrical resistance


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