Cell adhesion is of fundamental importance in cell and tissue organization and for designing cell-laden constructs for tissue engineering. Prior methods to assess cell adhesion strength for strongly adherent cells using hydrodynamic shear flow either involved the use of specialized flow devices to generate high shear stress or used simpler implementations like larger height parallel plate chambers that enable multihour cell culture but generate low wall shear stress and are, hence, more applicable for weakly adherent cells. Here, we propose a shear flow assay for adhesion strength assessment of strongly adherent cells that employs off-the-shelf parallel plate chambers for shear flow as well as simultaneous trypsin treatment to tune down the adhesion strength of cells. We implement the assay with a strongly adherent cell type and show that wall shear stress in the 0.07–7 Pa range is sufficient to dislodge the cells with simultaneous trypsin treatment. Imaging of cells over a square centimeter area allows cell morphological analysis of hundreds of cells. We show that the cell area of cells that are dislodged, on average, does not monotonically increase with wall shear stress at the higher end of wall shear stresses used and suggest that this can be explained by the likely higher resistance of high circularity cells to trypsin digestion. The adhesion strength assay proposed can be used to assess the adhesion strength of both weakly and strongly adherent cell types and has the potential to be adapted for substrate stiffness-dependent adhesion strength assessment in mechanobiology studies.

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