Recapitulating monocyte extravasation to the synovium in an organotypic microfluidic model of the articular joint

Carlotta Mondadori, Silvia Palombella, Shima Salehi, Giuseppe Talo, Roberta Visone, Marco Rasponi, Alberto Redaelli, Valerio Sansone, Matteo Moretti, Silvia Lopa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The synovium of osteoarthritis (OA) patients can be characterized by an abnormal accumulation of macrophages originating from extravasated monocytes. Since targeting monocyte extravasation may represent a promising therapeutic strategy, our aim was to develop an organotypic microfluidic model recapitulating this process. Synovium and cartilage were modeled by hydrogel-embedded OA synovial fibroblasts and articular chondrocytes separated by a synovial fluid channel. The synovium compartment included a perfusable endothelialized channel dedicated to monocyte injection. Monocyte extravasation in response to chemokines and OA synovial fluid was quantified. The efficacy of chemokine receptor antagonists, RS-504393 (CCR2 antagonist) and Cenicriviroc (CCR2/CCR5 antagonist) in inhibiting extravasation was tested pre-incubating monocytes with the antagonists before injection. After designing and fabricating the chip, culture conditions were optimized to achieve an organotypic model including synovial fibroblasts, articular chondrocytes, and a continuous endothelial monolayer expressing intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1. A significantly higher number of monocytes extravasated in response to the chemokine mix (p < 0.01) and OA synovial fluid (p < 0.01), compared to a control condition. In both cases, endothelium pre-activation enhanced monocyte extravasation. The simultaneous blocking of CCR2 and CCR5 proved to be more effective (p < 0.001) in inhibiting monocyte extravasation in response to OA synovial fluid than blocking of CCR2 only (p < 0.01). The study of extravasation in the model provided direct evidence that OA synovial fluid induces monocytes to cross the endothelium and invade the synovial compartment. The model can be exploited either to test molecules antagonizing this process or to investigate the effect of extravasated monocytes on synovium and cartilage cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045001
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • extravasation
  • microfluidics
  • monocyte
  • organ-on-a-chip
  • osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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