The separation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) into constituent blood cell types is a vital step to obtain immune cells for autologous cell therapies. The ability to separate PBMCs using label-free microfluidic techniques, based on differences in biomechanical properties, can have a number of benefits over other conventional techniques, including lower cost, ease of use, and avoidance of animal-derived labeling antibodies. Here, we report a microfluidic device that uses compressive diagonal ridges to separate PBMCs into highly pure samples of viable and functional lymphocytes. The technique utilizes the differences in the biophysical properties of PBMC sub-populations to direct the lymphocytes and monocytes into separate outlets. The biophysical properties of the monocytes and lymphocytes from healthy donors were first characterized using atomic force microscopy. Lymphocytes were found to be significantly stiffer than monocytes, with a mean cell stiffness of 1495 and 931 Pa, respectively. The differences in biophysical properties resulted in distinct trajectories through the microchannel terminating at different outlets, resulting in a lymphocyte sample with purity and viability both greater than 96% with no effect on the cells’ ability to produce interferon gamma, a cytokine crucial for innate and adaptive immunity.
Label-free microfluidic isolation of functional and viable lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells
Abhishek Raj, Katily Ramirez, Katherine M. Young, Nicholas Stone, Peter Shankles, Mehdia Nadeem Rajab Ali, Anthony Malik Compton, Wilbur Lam, Alexander Alexeev, Todd Sulchek; Label-free microfluidic isolation of functional and viable lymphocytes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Biomicrofluidics 1 September 2023; 17 (5): 054102. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0161047
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