Characterization of Atherosclerotic Plaque Coating for Thrombosis Microfluidics Assays

M. F. A. Karel, T. P. Lemmens, B. M. E. Tullemans, S. J. H. Wielders, E. Gubbins, D. van Beurden, S. van Rijt & J. M. E. M. Cosemans

Published: 2021



Studying arterial thrombus formation by in vitro flow assays is a widely used approach. Incorporating human atherosclerotic plaque material as a thrombogenic surface in these assays represents a method to model the pathophysiological environment of thrombus formation upon plaque disruption. Up until now, achieving a homogeneous coating of plaque material and subsequent reproducible platelet adhesion has been challenging. Here, we characterized a novel method for coating of plaque material on glass coverslips for use in thrombosis microfluidic assays.


A homogenate of human atherosclerotic plaques was coated on glass coverslips by conventional manual droplet coating or by spin coating. Prior to coating, a subset of coverslips was plasma treated. Water contact angle measurements were performed as an indicator for the hydrophilicity of the coverslips. Homogeneity of plaque coatings was determined using profilometric analysis and scanning electron microscopy. Thrombogenicity of the plaque material was assessed in real time by microscopic imaging while perfusing whole blood at a shear rate of 1500 s−1 over the plaque material.


Plasma treatment of glass coverslips, prior to spin coating with plaque material, increased the hydrophilicity of the coverslip compared to no plasma treatment. The most homogeneous plaque coating and highest platelet adhesion was obtained upon plasma treatment followed by spin coating of the plaque material. Manual plaque coating on non-plasma treated coverslips yielded lowest coating homogeneity and platelet adhesion and activation.


Spin coating of atherosclerotic plaque material on plasma treated coverslips leads to a more homogenous coating and improved platelet adhesion to the plaque when compared to conventional droplet coating on non-plasma treated coverslips. These properties are beneficial in ensuring the quality and reproducibility of flow experiments.

Full Access Link: Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering