Defining Cell Cluster Size by Dielectrophoretic Capture at an Array of Wireless Electrodes of Several Distinct Lengths

Micromachines (Basel). 2019 Apr 23;10(4):271. doi: 10.3390/mi10040271.


Clusters of biological cells play an important role in normal and disease states, such as in the release of insulin from pancreatic islets and in the enhanced spread of cancer by clusters of circulating tumor cells. We report a method to pattern cells into clusters having sizes correlated to the dimensions of each electrode in an array of wireless bipolar electrodes (BPEs). The cells are captured by dielectrophoresis (DEP), which confers selectivity, and patterns cells without the need for physical barriers or adhesive interactions that can alter cell function. Our findings demonstrate that this approach readily achieves fine control of cell cluster size over a broader range set by other experimental parameters. These parameters include the magnitude of the voltage applied externally to drive capture at the BPE array, the rate of fluid flow, and the time allowed for DEP-based cell capture. Therefore, the reported method is anticipated to allow the influence of cluster size on cell function to be more fully investigated.

Keywords: bipolar electrode; cell cluster; cell patterning; dielectrophoresis; wireless electrode array.