Cell confinement

Control cells between two parallel surfaces


Cells are homogeneously confined/compressed between two parallel surfaces to a defined micrometer height with sub-micrometer resolution.


Different confinement heights available (e.g. 1 µm – 300 µm)

Allows long-term cell culture and cell proliferation to proceed while preserving perfect control of confinement

Compatible with high-resolution optical microscopy systems

Can process a sufficiently large number of cells to allow whole gene expression analyses to be performed

Can be combined with bio-functionalized micro-structured substrates and/or with different matrices (geometry control)

Can be combined with gels (stiffness control)

Compatible Petri dishes of 35 mm and 6-well plates

For customized designs, please contact us

Cell confinement principle


Cell migration 2.5D, migration and interaction of non-adhesive cells, cell squeezing, imaging of flat cells (organelles aligned in 2D), super-resolution video-microscopy (organelles move less), contractility assay, etc

Confinement illustration

HeLa cells: not confined, 5 µm, 3 µm.

Nuclear bebling and laminar rupture is modulated by the degree of cell confinement

Cell migration phenotype behaviour is affected by degree of confinement height and adhesion

Cell migration phenotype behaviour is affected by degree of confinement height and adhesion

Cells undergo phenotypic transition in response to confinement height

Cells undergo phenotypic transition in response to confinement height


  • A flagellate-to-amoeboid switch in the closest living relatives of animals 
    Brunet. T., et al., Elife, 2021 Jan 15;10:e61037
  • The nucleus measures shape changes for cellular proprioception to control dynamic cell behavior
    Venturini. V., et al., Science, 2020, 370, eaba2644
  • Confinement and Low Adhesion Induce Fast Amoeboid Migration of Slow Mesenchymal Cells
    Y.-J. Liu, M. Piel., et al.Cell,  2015 160(4), 659-672
  • Actin flows induce a universal coupling between cell speed and cell persistence
    P. Maiuri, R. Voituriez, et al., Cell, 2015 161(2), 374–386
  • Geometric friction directs cell migration
    M. Le Berre, M. Piel, et al., Physical Review Letter 2013 111, 198101
  • Mitotic rounding alters cell geometry to ensure efficient spindle assembly
    O. M. Lancaster, B. Baum, et al., Developmental Cell, 2013 25(3), 270-283
  • Fine Control of Nuclear Confinement Identifies a Threshold Deformation leading to Lamina Rupture and Induction of Specific Genes
    M. Le Berre, J. Aubertin, M. Piel, Integrative Biology, 2012 4 (11), 1406-1414
  • Exploring the Function of Cell Shape and Size during Mitosis
    C. Cadart, H. K. Matthews, et al., Developmental Cell, 2014 29(2), 159-169
  • Methods for Two-Dimensional Cell Confinement
    M. Le Berre, M. Piel, et al., 2014, Micropatterning in Cell Biology Part C, Methods in cell biology, 121, 213-29


  • What is 4DCell?
    4Dcell is a biotech company which provides solutions for cellular microenvironment control.Innovation in cell culture methods requires new tools to control the cell microenvironment, like microfluidics and micropatterning. Developing and spreading these technologies for research laboratories and industry is our ambition.
  • What is the cell confiner?
     The cell Confiner reproduces the conditions to which cells are normally subjected in the body: they are confined. It allows you to control the thickness of your cells and the volume of the cell culture. By a non-destructive method, you can precisely define the volume of the culture, and specific pressure applied upon cells. This constitutes a new and relevant system to culture cells triggering biomimetism.
  • How can I use it?
    The confiner is compatible with standard plates (such as petridish/fluorodish, or 6-well plates). It is also compatible with high-resolution live imaging, and standard biological assays.

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  • What are the differences between the dynamic and the static confiner?
    The static confiner offers the possibility to observe the effect of confinement on your cells, in a static state, and compare it to the « normal » cell state.

    The dynamic confiner is suited for varying the confinement on the cells, in a dynamic way, confining and retrieving or even varying the strength.
  • How many times can the device be used?
    The Cell Confiner can be used multiple times, depending on the use and handling. To keep them longer, be sure to handle them gently and clean them properly after each use with 70% ethanol.

    Each system includes a set of spare parts for you to replace some parts at least once if needed. We also provide additional consumables on demand.
  • How it is possible to control the height of the culture?
    The height of the culture can be controlled thanks to a micropillar system anchored to a glass slide, which is pushed/pulled by a suction cup. The height of the pillars can be adjusted from 3 µm to 20 µm.
  • Can I get samples to test your system in my lab conditions?
    In order for you to first try the 4Dcell products, we provide affordable starter packs (with either 20 or 50 articles). Therefore, you can have a first impression and confirm your experimental needs before ordering the appropriate products.
  • How do I order and pay?
    When you have decided which products you want to order, you can send us an order form. We will send you an invoice so that you can pay by bank transfer or with a Paypal account.If you have a special request concerning the payment method, contact us and we will find an appropriate solution.
  • What is the delivery time?
    We send the products in a delay of one month from the day we receive the order form.
  • Where do you distribute your products?
    All 4Dcell products can be sent worldwide. 4Dcell works with a Chinese distributor for the Asian market.