Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 9, pp 1839–1862 | Cite as

Go with the flow: advances and trends in magnetic flow cytometry

  • Rita Soares
  • Verónica C. MartinsEmail author
  • Rita Macedo
  • Filipe A. Cardoso
  • Sofia A. M. Martins
  • Diogo M. Caetano
  • Pedro H. Fonseca
  • Vânia Silvério
  • Susana Cardoso
  • Paulo P. Freitas
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Nanoparticles for Bioanalysis


The growing need for biological information at the single cell level has driven the development of improved cytometry technologies. Flow cytometry is a particularly powerful method that has evolved over the past few decades. Flow cytometers have become essential instruments in biomedical research and routine clinical tests for disease diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment monitoring. However, the increasing number of cellular parameters unveiled by genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data platforms demands an augmented multiplexability. Also, the need for identification and quantification of relevant biomarkers at low levels requires outstanding analytical sensitivity and reliability. In addition, growing awareness of the advantages associated with miniaturization of analytical devices is pushing forward the progress in integrated and compact, microfluidic-based devices at the point-of-care. In this context, novel types of flow cytometers are emerging during the search to tackle these challenges. Notwithstanding the relevance of other promising alternatives to standard optical flow cytometry (e.g., mass cytometry, various optical and electrical microcytometers), this report focuses on a recent microcytometric technology based on magnetic sensors and magnetic particles integrated into microfluidic structures for dynamic bioanalysis of fluid samples—magnetic flow cytometry. Its concept, main developments, targeted applications, as well as the challenges and trends behind this technology are presented and discussed.

Graphical abstract

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Magnetic flow cytometry Magnetic sensors Magnetic particles Microfluidics Point-of-care 



Analog to digital converter


Anisotropic magnetoresistance




Giant magneto impedance


Giant magnetoresistance




Magnetically assisted cell sorting


Magnetic flow cytometry


Magnetic nanoparticles




Magnetic resonance imaging


Magnetic tunnel junctions


Planar Hall effect


Photomultiplier tubes






Spin-exchange relaxation-free


Signal-to-noise ratio


Spin valve


Tunneling magnetoresistance





This work has received funding from European Structural & Investment Funds through the COMPETE Program and from National Funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia under the grants SAICTPAC/0019/2015, MUSIC-PESSOA 2017-38027RF and MagScopy4IHC- LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-031200. The authors acknowledge funding from the European Union through the project MAGNAMED- H2020-MSCA-RISE-2016 grant n. 734801. The authors R. Soares, D. M. Caetano and P. H. Fonseca, acknowledge their PhD grants, PD/BD/128205 /2016, PD/BD/128208/2016, PD/BD/135272/2017, respectively, funded through the Advanced Integrated Microsystems (AIM) doctoral program.

Compliance with ethical standards

No experiments involving human participants and/or animals have been conducted for this publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Soares
    • 1
    • 2
  • Verónica C. Martins
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Rita Macedo
    • 1
  • Filipe A. Cardoso
    • 1
    • 3
  • Sofia A. M. Martins
    • 1
    • 3
  • Diogo M. Caetano
    • 2
    • 4
  • Pedro H. Fonseca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vânia Silvério
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susana Cardoso
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paulo P. Freitas
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.INESC–Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC-MN) and INLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto Superior TécnicoUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Magnomics S.A., Parque Tecnológico de CantanhedeCantanhedePortugal
  4. 4.INESC–IDLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.INL, International Iberian Nanotechnology LaboratoryBragaPortugal

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