Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 425–433 | Cite as

Flow plate separation of cells based on elastic properties: a computational study

  • Matthew Becton
  • Rodney D. Averett
  • Xianqiao WangEmail author
Original Paper


Medical studies have consistently shown that the best defense against cancer is early detection. Due to this, many efforts have been made to develop methods of screening patient blood quickly and cheaply. These methods range from separation via differences in size, electrostatic potential, chemical potential, antibody-binding affinity, among others. We propose a method of separating cells which have similar size and outer coatings, but which differ in their elastic properties. Such a method would be useful in detecting cancerous cells, which may have similar properties to leukocytes or erythrocytes but differ in their stiffness and deformation response. Here, we use coarse-grained model of a cell with membrane, cytoskeleton, and inner fluid to determine how small changes in the cell stiffness may be used to quickly and efficiently separate out irregular cells such as circulating tumor cells from a sample of blood. We focus specifically on the effects of volumetric flux and plate geometry on the ability of a separation plate to differentiate cells of similar but disparate stiffnesses. We show that volumetric flux is crucial in determining the stiffness cutoff for separating out cells of similar sizes, while the angle of the separation plate plays a less important role. With this work, we provide a comprehensive approach to the design factors of cell separation via elastic properties and hope to offer a guideline for the development of novel cytometry devices for the detection of irregular cells such as circulating tumor cells.


Cell modeling Cell separation Cytometry Simulation Coarse grain 



The authors acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation and University of Georgia (UGA) start-up fund. The facility support for modeling and simulations from the UGA Advanced Computing Resource Center is greatly appreciated.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10237_2018_1093_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3363 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EngineeringUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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