Intuitive, image-based cell sorting using optofluidic cell sorting

Anal Chem. 2007 Dec 15;79(24):9321-30. doi: 10.1021/ac071366y. Epub 2007 Nov 16.


We present a microfluidic cell-sorting device which augments microscopy with the capability to perform facile image-based cell sorting. This combination enables intuitive, complex phenotype sorting based on spatio-temporal fluorescence or cell morphology. The microfluidic device contains a microwell array that can be passively loaded with mammalian cells via sedimentation and can be subsequently inspected with microscopy. After inspection, we use the scattering force from a focused infrared laser to levitate cells of interest from their wells into a flow field for collection. First, we demonstrate image-based sorting predicated on whole-cell fluorescence, which could enable sorting based on temporal whole-cell fluorescence behavior. Second, we demonstrate image-based sorting predicated on fluorescence localization (nuclear vs whole-cell fluorescence), highlighting the capability of our approach to sort based on imaged subcellular events, such as localized protein expression or translocation events. We achieve postsort purities up to 89% and up to 155-fold enrichment of target cells. Optical manipulation literature and a direct cell viability assay suggest that cells remain viable after using our technique. The architecture is highly scalable and supports over 10 000 individually addressable trap sites. Our approach enables sorting of significant populations based on subcellular spatio-temporal information, which is difficult or impossible with existing widespread sorting technologies.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Separation / instrumentation
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cell Shape
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Lasers
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques*
  • Optical Tweezers*