Detachment of captured cancer cells under flow acceleration in a bio-functionalized microchannel
Attachment, deformation and detachment of N-cadherin expressing prostate and breast cancer cell lines in a functionalized microchannel under hydrodynamic loading have been studied. N-cadherin antibodies are immobilized on the microchannel surface to capture the target cancer cells, PC3N and MDA-MB-231-N, from a homogeneous cell suspension. Although difficult, a significant fraction of moving cells can be captured under a low flow rate. More than 90% of the target cells are captured after a certain incubation time under no flow condition. The mechanical response of a captured cancer cell to hydrodynamic flow field is investigated and, in particular, the effect of flow acceleration is examined. The observed cell deformation is dramatic under low acceleration, but is negligible under high acceleration. Consequently, the detachment of captured cells depends on both flow rate and flow acceleration. The flow rate required for cell detachment is a random variable that can be described by a log-normal distribution. Two flow acceleration limits have been identified for proper scaling of the flow rate required to detach captured cells. A time constant for the mechanical response of a captured cell, on the order of 1 min, has been identified for scaling the flow acceleration. Based on these acceleration limits and time constant, an exponential-like empirical model is proposed to predict the flow rate required for cell detachment as a function of flow acceleration.