Label-free fingerprinting of tumor cells in bulk flow using inline digital holographic microscopy

Dhananjay Kumar Singh, Caroline C. Ahrens, Wei Li, Siva A. Vanapalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Large-scale and label-free phenotyping of cells holds great promise in medicine, especially in cancer diagnostics and prognosis. Here, we introduce inline digital holography microscopy for volumetric imaging of cells in bulk flow and fingerprinting of flowing tumor cells based on two metrics, in-focus scattered intensity and cell diameter. Using planar distribution of immobilized particles, we identify the optimal recording distance and microscope objective magnification that minimizes the error in measurement of particle position, size and scattered intensity. Using the optimized conditions and the two metrics, we demonstrate the capacity to enumerate and fingerprint more than 100,000 cells. Finally, we highlight the power of our label-free and high throughput technology by characterizing breast tumor cell lines with different metastatic potentials and distinguishing drug resistant ovarian cancer cells from their parental cell line.

Original languageEnglish
Article number#280557
Pages (from-to)536-554
Number of pages19
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Digital holography
  • Medical optics and biotechnology


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