Determining cell mechanical properties is increasingly recognized as a marker-free way to characterize and separate biological cells. This emerging realization has led to the development of a plethora of appropriate measurement techniques. Here, we use a fairly novel approach, deterministic lateral displacement (DLD), to separate blood cells based on their mechanical phenotype with high throughput. Human red blood cells were treated chemically to alter their membrane deformability and the effect of this alteration on the hydrodynamic behaviour of the cells in a DLD device was investigated. Cells of defined stiffness (glutaraldehyde cross-linked erythro-cytes) were used to test the performance of the DLD device across a range of cell stiffness and applied shear rates. Optical stretching was used as an independent method for quantifying the variation in stiffness of the cells. Lateral displacement of cells flowing within the device, and their subsequent exit position from the device were shown to correlate with cell stiffness. Data showing how the isolation of leucocytes from whole blood varies with applied shear rate are also presented. The ability to sort leucocyte sub-populations (T-lymphocytes and neutrophils), based on a combination of cell size and deformability, demonstrates the potential for using DLD devices to perform continuous fractionation and/or enrichment of leucocyte sub-populations from whole blood.
- Blood separation
- Cell deformability
- Deterministic lateral displacement
- Digital holography
- Optical stretching