Electrophoresis, Vol.42, No.5, 667-675, 2021
Dielectric spectroscopy of red blood cells in sickle cell disease
Hypoxia-induced polymerization of sickle hemoglobin and the related ion diffusion across cell membrane can lead to changes in cell dielectric properties, which can potentially serve as label-free, diagnostic biomarkers for sickle cell disease. This article presents a microfluidic-based approach with on-chip gas control for the impedance spectroscopy of suspended cells within the frequency range of 40 Hz to 110 MHz. A comprehensive bioimpedance of sickle cells under both normoxia and hypoxia is achieved rapidly (within similar to 7 min) and is appropriated by small sample volumes (similar to 2.5 mu L). Analysis of the sensing modeling is performed to obtain optimum conditions for dielectric spectroscopy of sickle cell suspensions and for extraction of single cell properties from the measured impedance spectra. The results of sickle cells show that upon hypoxia treatment, cell interior permittivity and conductivity increase, while cell membrane capacitance decreases. Moreover, the relative changes in cell dielectric parameters are found to be dependent on the sickle and fetal hemoglobin levels. In contrast, the changes in normal red blood cells between the hypoxia and normoxia states are unnoticeable. The results of sickle cells may serve as a reference to design dielectrophoresis-based cell sorting and electrodeformation testing devices that require cell dielectric characteristics as input parameters. The demonstrated method for dielectric characterization of single cells from the impedance spectroscopy of cell suspensions can be potentially applied to other cell types and under varied gas conditions.