Cell fence assay is another convenient and automatic method to study cell migration, which offers distinct advantages such as keeping the culture sterile easily for long time experiments and permitting study of cell migration on a defined matrix. In the process of fence assay, cells are seeded into the inner area of removable fence (ring) which is placed on a standard cell culture dish. The cells can’t attach the inner part of the ring device.

After cellular attachment, the fence is removed and the cells are allowed to migrate from the circular area in a radial way outward. Cell migration is monitored and the rate of movement is measured as the increase of the new area covered by migrating cells by automated image analysis technique.

Cell Fence/Ring AssayFigure 1. The experimental results of cell fence assay

Based on the mechanical cell fence assay, the electric fence assay has been developed as a derived technique to monitor and measure the rate of cell migration. The electric fence assay system is typically comprised an electrode which can be activated by a series of high field electric pulses. This electrode can be employed to prevent cells from attaching and spreading onto the electrode while a confluent layer develops around the electrode. When there is no electric pulse in the electrode, the cells outside of the electrode can migrate into the inner area of the electric fence. In this assay, the process of cell migration from the outside of the electrode fence into the inner open space can be precisely monitored and the migration rate is calculated. The electrode fence assay can eliminate the interference of cell proliferation to the study of cell migration.

Cell Fence/Ring AssayFigure 2. The experimental results of electrode fence assay

The electrode fence assay in our laboratory is completely automated with the automated image analysis system and other advanced equipment. The experiment can be accomplished without external interference and minimize the risk of contamination and therefore ensure the success of the research. The automatic image analysis technique allows for the continuous, real-time migration measurement and acquisition of precise data including the rate of cell migration.

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