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Issue 8, 2019
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Sorting by interfacial tension (SIFT): label-free selection of live cells based on single-cell metabolism

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Abstract

Selection of live cells from a population is critical in many biological studies and biotechnologies. We present here a novel droplet microfluidic approach that allows for label-free and passive selection of live cells using the glycolytic activity of individual cells. It was observed that with the use of a specific surfactant utilized to stabilize droplet formation, the interfacial tension of droplets was very sensitive to pH. After incubation, cellular lactate release results in droplets containing a live cell to attain a lower pH than other droplets. This enables the sorting of droplets containing live cells when confined droplets flow over a microfabricated trench oriented diagonally with respect to the direction of flow. The technique is demonstrated with human U87 glioblastoma cells for the selection of only droplets containing a live cell while excluding either empty droplets or droplets containing a dead cell. This label-free sorting method, dubbed sorting by interfacial tension (SIFT) presents a new strategy to sort diverse cell types based on metabolic activity.

Graphical abstract: Sorting by interfacial tension (SIFT): label-free selection of live cells based on single-cell metabolism

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
03 Dec 2018
Accepted
27 Feb 2019
First published
08 Mar 2019

Lab Chip, 2019,19, 1344-1351
Article type
Paper
Author version available

Sorting by interfacial tension (SIFT): label-free selection of live cells based on single-cell metabolism

C. W. Pan, D. G. Horvath, S. Braza, T. Moore, A. Lynch, C. Feit and P. Abbyad, Lab Chip, 2019, 19, 1344
DOI: 10.1039/C8LC01328D

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