Microfluidic, flow cytometry, and immunomagnetic methods for cancer cell isolation have heavily relied on the Epithelial Cellular Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) for affinity separation. While EpCAM has been used extensively for circulating tumor cell isolation, it cannot be used to isolate non-epithelial cells. The human transferrin receptor (CD71) can also be used for cancer cell isolation and has the advantage that as an affinity target it can separate virtually any cancer cell type, regardless of disease origin. However, direct comparison of the capture ability of EpCAM and CD71 has not been reported previously. In this work, cell capture with both EpCAM and CD71 were studied using a novel higher-throughput herringbone cell separation microfluidic device. Five separation chip models were designed and the one with the highest capture efficiency (average 90 ± 10%) was chosen to compare antigen targets for cell capture. Multiple cancer cell lines including CCRF-CEM, PC-3 and MDA-MB-231 were tested for cell capture performance using both ligands (anti-CD71 and anti-EpCAM) in the optimized chip design. PC-3 and MDA-MB-231 cells were spiked into blood at concentrations ranging from 0.5%–10%. PC-3 cells were separated by anti-CD71 and anti-EpCAM with 32–37% and 31–50% capture purity respectively, while MDA-MB-231 were separated with 35–53% and 33–56% capture purity using anti-CD71 and anti-EpCAM for all concentrations. The enrichment factor for the lowest concentrations of cells in blood ranged from 66-74X. The resulting enrichment of cancer cells shows that anti-CD71 was found to be statistically similar to anti-EpCAM for epithelial cancer cells, while anti-CD71 can be further used for non-epithelial cells, where anti-EpCAM cannot be used.
- Cancer cell separation
- Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecules
- Herringbone geometry design
- Transferrin receptor (CD71)