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Cytometry A. 2016 Apr;89(4):391-7. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.22794. Epub 2015 Nov 13.

High-throughput linear optical stretcher for mechanical characterization of blood cells.

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Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado, 80401.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, 80045.
Department of Physics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado, 80401.


This study describes a linear optical stretcher as a high-throughput mechanical property cytometer. Custom, inexpensive, and scalable optics image a linear diode bar source into a microfluidic channel, where cells are hydrodynamically focused into the optical stretcher. Upon entering the stretching region, antipodal optical forces generated by the refraction of tightly focused laser light at the cell membrane deform each cell in flow. Each cell relaxes as it flows out of the trap and is compared to the stretched state to determine deformation. The deformation response of untreated red blood cells and neutrophils were compared to chemically treated cells. Statistically significant differences were observed between normal, diamide-treated, and glutaraldehyde-treated red blood cells, as well as between normal and cytochalasin D-treated neutrophils. Based on the behavior of the pure, untreated populations of red cells and neutrophils, a mixed population of these cells was tested and the discrete populations were identified by deformability.


Optical stretcher; cell differentiation; cell mechanical properties; deformability cytometry; linear diode bar laser; microfluidics; optical trap

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