Label-free enrichment of MCF7 breast cancer cells from leukocytes using continuous flow dielectrophoresis

Arslan Z. C., Yalcin Y. D., KÜLAH H.

ELECTROPHORESIS, vol.43, no.13-14, pp.1531-1544, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 13-14
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/elps.202100318
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, Communication Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1531-1544
  • Keywords: circulating tumor cell, CTC enrichment, dielectrophoresis, leukocyte, MCF7 breast cancer cell, CIRCULATING TUMOR-CELLS, MULTIDRUG-RESISTANCE, PREDICT SURVIVAL, SEPARATION, CAPTURE, BLOOD, PLATFORM, EPCAM, MICROFLUIDICS, IMMUNOCAPTURE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) present in the bloodstream are strongly linked to the invasive behavior of cancer; therefore, their detection holds great significance for monitoring disease progression. Currently available CTC isolation tools are often based on tumor-specific antigen or cell size approaches. However, these techniques are limited due to the lack of a unique and universal marker for CTCs, and the overlapping size between CTCs and regular blood cells. Dielectrophoresis (DEP), governed by the intrinsic dielectric properties of the particles, is a promising marker-free, accurate, fast, and low-cost technique that enables the isolation of CTCs from blood cells. This study presents a continuous flow, antibody-free DEP-based microfluidic device to concentrate MCF7 breast cancer cells, a well-established CTC model, in the presence of leukocytes extracted from human blood samples. The enrichment strategy was determined according to the DEP responses of the corresponding cells, obtained in our previously reported DEP spectrum study. It was based on the positive-DEP integrated with hydrodynamic focusing under continuous flow. In the proposed device, the parylene microchannel with two inlets and outlets was built on top of rectangular and equally spaced isolated planar electrodes rotated certain degree relative to the main flow (13 degrees). The recovery of MCF7 cells mixed with leukocytes was 74%-98% at a frequency of 1 MHz and a magnitude of 10-12 V-pp. Overall, the results revealed that the presented system successfully concentrates MCF7 cancer cells from leukocytes, ultimately verifying our DEP spectrum study, in which the enrichment frequency and separation strategy of the microfluidic system were determined.