Experimental study of diffusion-based extraction from a cell suspension

Clara Mata, Ellen K. Longmire, David H. McKenna, Katie K. Glass, Allison Hubel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A recently proposed application of microfluidics is the post-thaw processing of biological cells. Numerical simulations suggest that diffusion-based extraction of the cryoprotective agent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) from blood cells is viable and more efficient than centrifugation, the conventional method of DMSO removal. In order to validate the theoretical model used in these simulations, a prototype was built and the flow of two parallel streams, a suspension of Jurkat cells containing DMSO and a wash stream that contained neither cells nor DMSO, was characterized experimentally. DMSO transport in a rectangular channel (depth 500 μm, width 25 mm and overall length 125 mm) was studied as a function of three dimensionless parameters: depth ratio of the streams, cell volume fraction in the cell solution, and the Peclet number (Pe ) based on channel depth, average flow rate and the diffusion coefficient for DMSO in water. In our studies, values of Pe ranged from O(103) to O(104). Laminar flow was ensured by keeping the Reynolds number between O(1) and O(10). Experimental results based on visual and quantitative data demonstrate conclusively that a microfluidic device can effectively remove DMSO from liquid and cell laden streams without compromising cell recovery. Also, flow conditions in the microfluidic device appear to have no adverse effect on cell viability at the outlet. Further, the results demonstrate that we can predict the amount of DMSO removed from a given device with the theoretical model mentioned previously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-540
Number of pages12
JournalMicrofluidics and Nanofluidics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by the University of Minnesota Grant-in-aid Program, the National Blood Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (Grant No. R21EB004857). We would like to thank Brian Darr for his invaluable help and Dave Hultman, from the Research Shop at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for helping with the design and fabrication of the microfluidic device. Anthony Cacace is acknowledged for helping with the exploded view of the channel.


  • Cell suspension
  • Channel flow
  • DMSO-extraction
  • Diffusion
  • Microfluidics


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