Microfluidic cell sorting: Towards improved biocompatibility of extracorporeal lung assist devices
Extracorporeal lung assist technology is one of the last options in critical care medicine to treat patients suffering from severe oxygenation and decarboxylation disorders. Platelet activation along with the consequent thrombus formation is a potentially life-threatening complication of this technique. To avoid platelet-dependent clot formation, this study aims at developing a microfluidic cell sorting chip that can bypass platelets prior to the membrane oxygenator of the extracorporeal lung assist device. The cell sorting chips were produced by maskless dip-in laser lithography, followed by soft lithography replication using PDMS. Citrated porcine whole blood with a clinically relevant haematocrit of 17% was used for the cell sorting experiments involving three different blood flow rates. The joint effects of flow focusing and hydrodynamic lifting forces within the cell sorting chip resulted in a reduction of up to 57% of the baseline platelet count. This cell sorting strategy is suitable for the continuous and label-free separation of red blood cells and platelets and is potentially applicable for increasing the biocompatibility and lifetime of current extracorporeal lung assist devices.