Characterization of red blood cell microcirculatory parameters using a bioimpedance microfluidic device
This paper describes the use of a microfluidic device comprising channels with dimensions mimicking those of the smallest capillaries found in the human microcirculation. The device structure, associated with a pair of microelectrodes, provides a tool to electrically measure the transit time of red blood cells through fine capillaries and thus generate an electrical signature for red blood cells in the context of human erythroid genetic disorders, such as sickle cell disease or hereditary spherocytosis, in which red cell elasticity is altered. Red blood cells from healthy individuals, heated or not, and red blood cells from patients with sickle cell disease or hereditary spherocytosis where characterized at a single cell level using our device. Transit time and blockade amplitude recordings were correlated with microscopic observations, and analyzed. The link between the electrical signature and the mechanical properties of the red blood cells is discussed in the paper, with greater transit time and modified blockade amplitude for heated and pathological red blood cells as compared to those from healthy individuals. Our single cell-based methodology offers a new and complementary approach to characterize red cell mechanical properties in human disorders under flow conditions mimicking the microcirculation.