Microfluidic cell fragmentation for mechanical phenotyping of cancer cells

Nabiollah Kamyabi, Siva A. Vanapalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) shed from the primary tumor undergo significant fragmentation in the microvasculature, and very few escape to instigate metastases. Inspired by this in vivo behavior of CTCs, we report a microfluidic method to phenotype cancer cells based on their ability to arrest and fragment at a micropillar-based bifurcation. We find that in addition to cancer cell size, mechanical properties determine fragmentability. We observe that highly metastatic prostate cancer cells are more resistant to fragmentation than weakly metastatic cells, providing the first indication that metastatic CTCs can escape rupture and potentially initiate secondary tumors. Our method may thus be useful in identifying phenotypes that succumb to or escape mechanical trauma in microcirculation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021102
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


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