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Front Oncol. 2013 Apr 22;3:98. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00098. eCollection 2013.

Emerging microfluidic tools for functional cellular immunophenotyping: a new potential paradigm for immune status characterization.

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  • 1Integrated Biosystems and Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI, USA ; Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Rapid, accurate, and quantitative characterization of immune status of patients is of utmost importance for disease diagnosis and prognosis, evaluating efficacy of immunotherapeutics and tailoring drug treatments. Immune status of patients is often dynamic and patient-specific, and such complex heterogeneity has made accurate, real-time measurements of patient immune status challenging in the clinical setting. Recent advances in microfluidics have demonstrated promising applications of the technology for immune monitoring with minimum sample requirements and rapid functional immunophenotyping capability. This review will highlight recent developments of microfluidic platforms that can perform rapid and accurate cellular functional assays on patient immune cells. We will also discuss the future potential of integrated microfluidics to perform rapid, accurate, and sensitive cellular functional assays at a single-cell resolution on different types or subpopulations of immune cells, to provide an unprecedented level of information depth on the distribution of immune cell functionalities. We envision that such microfluidic immunophenotyping tools will allow for comprehensive and systems-level immunomonitoring, unlocking the potential to transform experimental clinical immunology into an information-rich science.


immunophenotyping; microfluidics

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