Design and validation of an endothelial progenitor cell capture chip and its application in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

  • Georg HansmannEmail author
  • Brian D. Plouffe
  • Adam Hatch
  • Alexander von Gise
  • Hannes Sallmon
  • Roham T. Zamanian
  • Shashi K. MurthyEmail author
Original Article


The number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) inversely correlates with cardiovascular risk and clinical outcome, and thus has been proposed as a valuable biomarker for risk assessment, disease progression, and response to therapy. However, current strategies for isolation of these rare cells are limited to complex, laborious approaches. The goal of this study was the design and validation of a disposable microfluidic platform capable of selectively capturing and enumerating EPCs directly from human whole blood in healthy and diseased subjects, eliminating sample preprocessing. We then applied the “EPC capture chip” clinically and determined EPC numbers in blood from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Blood was collected in tubes and injected into polymeric microfluidic chips containing microcolumns pre-coated with anti-CD34 antibody. Captured cells were immunofluorescently stained for the expression of stem and endothelial antigens, identified and counted. The EPC capture chip was validated with conventional flow cytometry counts (r = 0.83). The inter- and intra-day reliability of the microfluidic devices was confirmed at different time points in triplicates over 1–5 months. In a cohort of 43 patients with three forms of PAH (idiopathic/heritable, drug-induced, and connective tissue disease), EPC numbers are ≈50% lower in PAH subjects vs. matched controls and inversely related to two potential disease modifiers: body mass index and postmenopausal status. The EPC capture chip (5 × 30 × 0.05 mm3) requires only 200 μL of human blood and has the strong potential to serve as a rapid bedside test for the screening and monitoring of patients with PAH and other proliferative cardiovascular, pulmonary, malignant, and neurodegenerative diseases.


Bioengineering Vascular disease Pulmonary Endothelium Bone marrow Progenitor cells Microfluidic device Pulmonary hypertension Biomarker Bedside test Diagnostics Biomedical engineering 



We thank the organizers of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s Research Room, Garden Grove, CA for their help with setting up the laboratory equipment and the PAH patients and volunteers for participating in the study.


This work was supported by NIH grant R01 EB009327 (S.K.M) and IGERT NSF/NCI grant NSF-DGE-0504331 (B.D.P.).

Potential conflict of interest


Supplementary material

109_2011_779_MOESM1_ESM.doc (236 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 236 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Hansmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian D. Plouffe
    • 2
  • Adam Hatch
    • 2
  • Alexander von Gise
    • 1
  • Hannes Sallmon
    • 3
  • Roham T. Zamanian
    • 4
  • Shashi K. Murthy
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Cardiology, Children’s Hospital BostonHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Newborn Medicine, Children’s Hospital BostonHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Vera Moulton Wall Center for Pulmonary Vascular Disease and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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