Induction and Suppression of Cell Lysis in an Electrokinetic Microfluidic System

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Department of Chemical Engineering


The ability to strategically induce or suppress cell lysis is critical for many cellular-level diagnostic and therapeutic applications conducted within electrokinetic microfluidic platforms. The chemical and structural integrity of sub-cellular components is important when inducing cell lysis. However, metal electrodes and electrolytes participate in undesirable electrochemical reactions that alter solution composition and potentially damage protein, RNA, and DNA integrity within device microenvironments. For many biomedical applications, cell viability must be maintained even when device-imposed cell-stressing stimuli (e.g., electrochemical reaction byproducts) are present. In this work, we explored a novel and tunable method to accurately induce or suppress device-imposed artifacts on human red blood cell (RBC) lysis in non-uniform AC electric fields. For precise tunability, a dielectric hafnium oxide (HfO ) layer was used to prevent electron transfer between the electrodes and the electric double layer and thus reduce harmful electrochemical reactions. Additionally, a low concentration of Triton X-100 surfactant was explored as a tool to stabilize cell membrane integrity. The extent of hemolysis was studied as a function of time, electrode configuration (T-shaped and star-shaped), cell position, applied non-uniform AC electric field, with uncoated and HfO coated electrodes (50 nm), and absence and presence of Triton X-100 (70 μM). Tangible outcomes include a parametric analysis relying upon literature and this work to design, tune, and operate electrokinetic microdevices to intentionally induce or suppress cellular lysis without altering intracellular components. Implications are that devices can be engineered to leverage or minimize device-imposed biological artefacts extending the versatility and utility of electrokinetic diagnostics. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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