Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 557–564 | Cite as

Deformability study of breast cancer cells using microfluidics

  • H. W. Hou
  • Q. S. Li
  • G. Y. H. Lee
  • A. P. Kumar
  • C. N. Ong
  • C. T. LimEmail author


Cell deformability is an important biomarker which can be used to distinguish between healthy and diseased cells. In this study, microfluidics is used to probe the biorheological behaviour of breast cancer cells in an attempt to develop a method to distinguish between non-malignant and malignant cells. A microfabricated fluidic channel design consisting of a straight channel and two reservoirs was used to study the biorheological behaviour of benign breast epithelial cells (MCF-10A) and non-metastatic tumor breast cells (MCF-7). Quantitative parameters such as entry time (time taken for the cell to squeeze into the microchannel) and transit velocity (speed of the cell flowing through the microchannel) were defined and measured from these studies. Our results demonstrated that a simple microfluidic device can be used to distinguish the difference in stiffness between benign and cancerous breast cells. This work lays the foundation for the development of potential microfluidic devices which can subsequently be used in the detection of cancer cells.


Microfluidics Breast tumor cells Metastasis Biorheology Cell deformability Cell mechanics 



The support provided by the Singapore–MIT Alliance and the Global Enterprise for Micro Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4) is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

10544_2008_9262_MOESM1_ESM.mpg (3 mb)
ESM 1 Entry of a single MCF-10A cell into a 10 by 10 μm microchannel (movie) (Movie 2.98 MB)
10544_2008_9262_MOESM2_ESM.mpg (718 kb)
ESM 2 Entry of a single MCF-7 cell into a 10 by 10 μm microchannel (movie) (Movie 718 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. W. Hou
    • 1
  • Q. S. Li
    • 2
  • G. Y. H. Lee
    • 3
  • A. P. Kumar
    • 4
  • C. N. Ong
    • 5
    • 6
  • C. T. Lim
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Singapore–MIT AllianceSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.National University Medical InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  5. 5.Department of Community, Occupational and Family MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  6. 6.Life Sciences InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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