A microfabricated deformability-based flow cytometer with application to malaria

Lab Chip. 2011 Mar 21;11(6):1065-73. doi: 10.1039/c0lc00472c. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


Malaria resulting from Plasmodium falciparum infection is a major cause of human suffering and mortality. Red blood cell (RBC) deformability plays a major role in the pathogenesis of malaria. Here we introduce an automated microfabricated "deformability cytometer" that measures dynamic mechanical responses of 10(3) to 10(4) individual RBCs in a cell population. Fluorescence measurements of each RBC are simultaneously acquired, resulting in a population-based correlation between biochemical properties, such as cell surface markers, and dynamic mechanical deformability. This device is especially applicable to heterogeneous cell populations. We demonstrate its ability to mechanically characterize a small number of P. falciparum-infected (ring stage) RBCs in a large population of uninfected RBCs. Furthermore, we are able to infer quantitative mechanical properties of individual RBCs from the observed dynamic behavior through a dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) model. These methods collectively provide a systematic approach to characterize the biomechanical properties of cells in a high-throughput manner.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Erythrocyte Deformability
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology
  • Flow Cytometry / instrumentation
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Microtechnology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Pressure