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Biomed Microdevices. 2005 Sep;7(3):189-95.

Continuous-flow fractionation of animal cells in microfluidic device using aqueous two-phase extraction.

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  • 1Department of Biological Engineering, Incheon 402-751, Korea.


Monitoring of live cells is important in the field of medical science, diagnostics, biology, and the pharmaceutical industry. In this study, live and dead CHO-K1 (Chinese Hamster Ovary) cells were fractionated by continuous-flow extraction in a microfluidic device using immiscible aqueous two-phase extraction technique. The polymer solutions offered stable two-phase flows in microchannel without diffusive mixing. The fundamentals of aqueous two-phase extraction can support stable and reproducible recovery and separation of biomolecules in microfluidic devices. Polyethylene glycol 8000 (PEG 8000, 4%) and dextran T 500 (5%) were selected as model polymer solutions. The appropriate flow rates of polymer and cell solutions were suggested. The fractionation efficiency of live and dead CHO K-1 cells from the culture broth was compared in normal macroscale system and microfluidic device. The optimum pH for the fractionation was 6.6 in both the normal and micro-scale systems. The loss of target live cells by sedimentation was circumvented in microfluidic device because of the negligible effect of gravity on the sedimentation. Most live cells were distributed to PEG-rich phase, while dead cells were found at the interface of two polymer solutions in microchannel. In this case, the recovery and fractionation efficiency of live cells in the PDMS-based microfluidic device was 100% and 97.0%, respectively.

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