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Types of Migration Assays

Migration assays are used for screening the effects of pharmaceutical substances or genetic modifications on mammalian cells. When analyzing cell migration behavior, cellular response is investigated on a molecular level. The key technique for all of these applications is the use of (video) microscopy.

Migration and Wound Healing

To measure the exact speed of “wound healing”, the characteristic parameter in migration assays is the change in the cell-covered area, over time. This can easily be measured by using ibidi’s Culture-Inserts, combined with a web-based automated Image Analysis (coming soon).

It is also true that proliferation assays will show cell division rates, such as mitosis events, over time and per total cell number. This type of assay is often used when investigating cell growth or the differentiation of stem cells.

Some experimental examples are:

  • the wound healing and migration behavior of cells and mutants (knockout / knockdown)
  • the wound healing potential of substances
  • the effect of inhibitors / enhancers on wound healing
  • molecular mechanisms that are visualized by high-resolution fluorescence microscopy
  • the investigation of signal transduction or cytoskeletal effects

Directed migration assays, such as chemotaxis, measure the displacement of the center of mass, the average cell speed, the directness, and the forward migration index of cells.

Influence of inhibitors or enhancers on wound healing

2D Invasion

The interaction of two different cell types can be investigated by seeding them separately into the two wells of a Culture-Insert. With 2D invasion assays, the invasion of tumor cells into a fibroblast culture, for example, can be monitored. After embedding tissue in a gel matrix, the invasion assay can be transferred to 3D applications.

Two different cell types (2D invasion assay)
Data provided by C. Matern and K. D. Nnetu, University Leipzig, Germany


The ibidi Culture-Inserts also allow for the cultivation of two or more types of cells or tissue, which are placed in the same medium, in co-cultivation experiments.

The ibidi Application Note 10 shows a detailed protocol on co-cultivation of two different cell types using the µ-Slide 2 Well Co-Culture.

Co-cultivation assays with different cell types