Cells are extraordinarily complex, containing thousands of different analytes with concentrations spanning at least nine orders of magnitude. Analyzing single cells instead of tissue homogenates provides unique insights into cell-to-cell heterogeneity and aids in distinguishing normal cells from pathological ones. The high sensitivity and low sample consumption of capillary and on-chip electrophoresis, when integrated with fluorescence, electrochemical, and mass spectrometric detection methods, offer an ideal toolset for examining single cells and even subcellular organelles; however, the isolation and loading of such small samples into these devices is challenging. Recent advances have addressed this issue by interfacing a variety of enhanced mechanical, microfluidic, and optical sampling techniques to capillary and on-chip electrophoresis instruments for single-cell analyses.
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