The human body relies on the microbiome to absorb nutrients, protect from pathogens, and aid in other physiological processes. Epithelial barriers that separate the microbiome from infecting the body are crucial for maintaining homeostasis. The compounds and signaling molecules that can cross through these barriers, along with the microbes that cross through weakened barriers, can contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of diseases.
The microbiome is unique to organisms that have them, and microfluidic devices allow for differences and similarities between each individual’s microbiome and resulting interactions to be analyzed in vitro. The dynamic flow recapitulates how compounds processed by the microbiota interact with other organs. Culturing a microbiota along with barriers lined with endothelial cells allows for the study of barrier integrity, shear stress, and selectivity.