Cell sickling is the process in which intracellular polymerization of deoxygenated sickle hemoglobin (HbS) leads to distorted, rigid cells, resulting in abnormal blood rheology and painful vaso-occlusion. Current methods for detection of this process mainly rely on optical microscopy of cellular morphology and measurements of cell deformability and blood rheology. As electrical impedance of cells is a sensitive indicator of changes in cellular structure and biophysical characteristics, it can be a promising marker for characterization of abnormal blood rheology and a means more convenient than optics to be integrated into point-of-care devices. In this work, a microfluidics-based electrical impedance sensor has been developed for characterizing the dynamic cell sickling-unsickling processes in sickle blood. The sensor is capable of measuring the continuous variation in the sickle cell suspension due to cyclic hypoxia-induced intracellular HbS polymerization and depolymerization. Simultaneous microscopic imaging of cell morphological change shows the reliability and repeatability of the electrical impedance-based measurements of cell sickling and unsickling processes. Strong correlation is found between the electrical impedance measurement and patients' hematological parameters such as levels of HbS and fetal hemoglobin. The combination of electrical impedance measurement and on-chip hypoxia control provides a promising method for rapid assessment of the dynamic processes of cell sickling and unsickling in patients with sickle cell disease.
- cell sickling
- cyclic hypoxia
- electrical impedance
- sickle cell disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Process Chemistry and Technology
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes