The Instrumentation of a Microfluidic Analyzer Enabling the Characterization of the Specific Membrane Capacitance, Cytoplasm Conductivity, and Instantaneous Young's Modulus of Single Cells

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jun 19;18(6):1158. doi: 10.3390/ijms18061158.


This paper presents the instrumentation of a microfluidic analyzer enabling the characterization of single-cell biophysical properties, which includes seven key components: a microfluidic module, a pressure module, an imaging module, an impedance module, two LabVIEW platforms for instrument operation and raw data processing, respectively, and a Python code for data translation. Under the control of the LabVIEW platform for instrument operation, the pressure module flushes single cells into the microfluidic module with raw biophysical parameters sampled by the imaging and impedance modules and processed by the LabVIEW platform for raw data processing, which were further translated into intrinsic cellular biophysical parameters using the code developed in Python. Based on this system, specific membrane capacitance, cytoplasm conductivity, and instantaneous Young's modulus of three cell types were quantified as 2.76 ± 0.57 μF/cm², 1.00 ± 0.14 S/m, and 3.79 ± 1.11 kPa for A549 cells (ncell = 202); 1.88 ± 0.31 μF/cm², 1.05 ± 0.16 S/m, and 3.74 ± 0.75 kPa for 95D cells (ncell = 257); 2.11 ± 0.38 μF/cm², 0.87 ± 0.11 S/m, and 5.39 ± 0.89 kPa for H460 cells (ncell = 246). As a semi-automatic instrument with a throughput of roughly 1 cell per second, this prototype instrument can be potentially used for the characterization of cellular biophysical properties.

Keywords: cytoplasm conductivity; instantaneous Young’s modulus; instrumentation; microfluidics; single-cell analysis; specific membrane capacitance.

MeSH terms

  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biosensing Techniques / instrumentation
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cytoplasm
  • Elastic Modulus*
  • Electric Capacitance*
  • Electric Conductivity*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Microfluidics / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidics / methods
  • Single-Cell Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods