BACKGROUND: There are important unmet clinical needs to develop cell enrichment technologies to enable unbiased label-free isolation of both single cell and clusters of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) manifesting heterogeneous lineage specificity. Here, we report a pilot study based on microfluidic acoustophoresis enrichment of CTCs using the CellSearch CTC assay as a reference modality.

METHODS: Acoustophoresis uses an ultrasonic standing wave field to separate cells based on biomechanical properties (size, density, and compressibility) resulting in inherently label-free and epitope-independent cell enrichment. Following red blood cell lysis and paraformaldehyde fixation, 6 mL of whole blood from 12 patients with metastatic prostate cancer and 20 healthy controls were processed with acoustophoresis and subsequent image cytometry.

RESULTS: Acoustophoresis enabled enrichment and characterization of phenotypic CTCs (EpCAM + , Cytokeratin + , DAPI + , CD45 - /CD66b - ) in all patients with metastatic prostate cancer and detected CTC-clusters composed of only CTCs or heterogenous aggregates of CTCs clustered with various types of white blood cells in 9 out of 12 patients. By contrast, CellSearch did not detect any CTC-clusters, but detected comparable numbers of phenotypic CTCs as acoustophoresis, with trends of finding higher number of CTCs using acoustophoresis.

CONCLUSION: Our preliminary data indicate that acoustophoresis provides excellent possibilities to detect and characterize CTC-clusters as a putative marker of metastatic disease and outcomes. Moreover, acoustophoresis enables sensitive label-free enrichment of cells with epithelial phenotype in blood and offers opportunities to detect and characterize CTCs undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitioning and lineage plasticity.

StatusPublished - 2023 dec. 4

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Cancer och onkologi


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