Dielectric cell separation of fine needle aspirates from tumor xenografts

Massimo Cristofanilli, Savitri Krishnamurthy, Chandra M. Das, James M. Reuben, William Spohn, Jamileh Noshari, Frederick Becker, Peter R. Gascoyne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


As an approach to isolating tumor cells from fine needle biopsy specimens, we investigated a dielectric cell preparation method using an in vivo xenographic tumor model. Cultured human MDA-MB-435 tumor cells were grown as solid tumors in nude mice and fine needle aspiration biopsies were conducted. Biopsied cells were suspended in sucrose medium and collected on slides patterned with microelectrode arrays (electrosmears) energized by electrical signals in the range 10 to 960 kHz. The unlabeled cells adhered to characteristic regions of the slides in accordance with their morphology as a result of dielectric forces. Tumor cells were trapped between 40 and 60 kHz and were separated according to whether they were mitotic, large and complex, or small. Damaged tumor cells were captured at between 60 and 120 kHz; granulocytes between 70 and 90 kHz; lymphocytes between 85 and 105 kHz; healthy erythrocytes between 140 and 180 kHz, and damaged erythrocytes above 180 kHz. Using intrinsic cell characteristics, the electrosmear presented cell subpopulations from fine needle aspiration biopsy specimens in a manner that is compatible with automated slide-based analysis systems. The approach has the potential to facilitate the analysis of the role of cell subpopulations in disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3732-3739
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Separation Science
Issue number21
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Cancer
  • Cell sorting
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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