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UC Davis "Lab on a Chip" Measures Heart Disease Risk
Date:8/6/2013

them easily adhere to endothelial cells that line the inner surfaces of blood vessels and promoting plaques that clog arteries and lead to cardiac events.

The team used the “lab on a chip” to study the blood of 35 volunteers with varied levels of baseline triglycerides but who were otherwise healthy, along with the blood of 18 volunteers who each had experienced a heart attack. The small device — only a few square inches in area — forces blood to flow at a speed similar to blood in arteries over a specially treated glass slide that serves as a molecular substrate that models artery walls. The blood is then analyzed using a microscope that detects the relative levels of CD14++, CD16+ and integrins that stick to the substrate.

“Our lab-on-a-chip is unique in that it mimics the conditions in an actual artery during the early stages of atherosclerosis,” said Simon, who developed the technology used in the study.

After eating a high-fat meal to induce an inflammatory state, the blood of the healthy volunteers with varying triglyceride levels revealed that the monocytes had adhered to the chip substrate with sevenfold higher efficiency than other cells, proving that they are accurate biomarkers of inflammation. Further investigation showed that the increased monocyte adhesion was due to increased expression of a specific integrin known as CD11c, which was upregulated after the high-fat meal.

The evaluation of blood samples from patients who had experienced a heart attack showed that levels of CD14++ and CD16+ monocyte adhesion due to the integrin CD11c increased by 100 percent when compared to levels of these cells in the blood of healthy volunteers, indicating that these biomarkers increased proportionate to the level of cardiac disease.

“We can actually see how monocytes in the blood of people with different risks for atherosclerosis and heart attack — ranging from people with low to high triglyceride levels to those who had
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