A microfluidic device for motility and osmolality analysis of zebrafish sperm

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A microfluidic chip is described that facilitates research and quality control analysis of zebrafish sperm which, due to its miniscule (i.e., 2-5 μl) sample volume and short duration of motility (i.e., <1 min), present a challenge for traditional manual assessment methods. A micromixer molded in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) bonded to a glass substrate was used to activate sperm samples by mixing with water, initiated by the user depressing a transfer pipette connected to the chip. Sample flow in the microfluidic viewing chamber was able to be halted within 1 s, allowing for rapid analysis of the sample using established computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) methods. Zebrafish sperm cell activation was consistent with manual hand mixing and yielded higher values of motility at earlier time points, as well as more subtle time-dependent trends in motility, than those processed by hand. Sperm activation curves, which indicate sample quality by evaluating percentage and duration of motility at various solution osmolalities, were generated with on-chip microfabricated gold floor electrodes interrogated by impedance spectroscopy. The magnitude of admittance was linearly proportional to osmolality and was not affected by the presence of sperm cells in the vicinity of the electrodes. This device represents a pivotal step in streamlining methods for consistent, rapid assessment of sperm quality for aquatic species. The capability to rapidly activate sperm and consistently measure motility with CASA using the microfluidic device described herein will help improve the reproducibility of studies on sperm and assist development of germplasm repositories.

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Biomedical microdevices

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