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A basic step in many biological assays is separating and isolating different types of cells from raw samples. To better meet these requirements in microfluidic devices for miniature biomedical analytical systems, an alternative method for separating cells has been devised by mimicking the physiological process of leukocyte recruitment to blood vessel walls: adhesive cell rolling and transient tethering. Reproducing these interactions for cells on surfaces of microstructured fluidic channels can serve to capture and concentrate cells and even to fractionate different cell types from a continuously flowing sample. To demonstrate this principle, two designs for microstructured fluidic channels were fabricated: an array of Square pillars and another with slender, Offset pillars. These structures were coated with E-selectin IgG chimera and the interactions of HL-60 and U-937 cells with these structures were characterized. With inflow of fluidic cell suspensions, the structures were able to efficiently capture and arrest cells directly from the rapid free stream flow. After capture, cells transit through the channel in three phases: cell rolling, cell tethering, and transient re-suspension in free stream flow before re-capture. Under these interactions, captured cells were enriched several hundred-fold from the original concentration. Additionally, among collected cells, the difference in flow-driven, adhesion-mediated cell transit in the Square design suggested that the two cell types could at least be partially fractionated.
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