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The use of microfluidic chips is now allowing for more advanced modelling of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in vitro, recapitulating heterotypic interactions, 3D architecture, and physiological flow. This chapter will give an introduction to these new technologies and how they are being applied to model the BBB and neurovascular unit (NVU). A foundational understanding of the fluid dynamics germane to the effective use of these chips will be set and an overview of how physical phenomena at the microscale can be exploited to enable new possibilities to control the cell culture environment. The four main approaches to construct microfluidic blood vessel mimetics will be discussed with examples of how these techniques are being applied to model the BBB and more recently to study specific neurovascular disease processes. Finally, practical guidance will be given for researchers wishing to adopt these new techniques along with a summary of the challenges, limitations faced, and new opportunities opened up by these advanced cell culture systems.

Original publication




Journal article


Methods Mol Biol

Publication Date





193 - 224


BBB, MPS, Microfluidics, Neurovascular unit, Organ-on-chip, Biological Transport, Blood-Brain Barrier, Microfluidics