Acoustofluidic Transfer of Inflammatory Cells from Human Sputum Samples

For sputum analysis, the transfer of inflammatory cells from liquefied sputum samples to a culture medium or buffer solution is a critical step because it removes the inflammatory cells from the presence of residual dithiothreitol (DTT), a reagent that reduces cell viability and interferes with further sputum analyses. In this work, we report an acoustofluidic platform for transferring inflammatory cells using standing surface acoustic waves (SSAW). In particular, we exploit the acoustic radiation force generated from a SSAW field to actively transfer inflammatory cells from a solution containing residual DTT to a buffer solution. The viability and integrity of the inflammatory cells are maintained during the acoustofluidic-based cell transfer process. Our acoustofluidic technique removes residual DTT generated in sputum liquefaction and facilitates immunophenotyping of major inflammatory cells from sputum samples. It enables cell transfer in a continuous flow, which aids the development of an automated, integrated system for on-chip sputum processing and analysis.