Biomedical Engineering Letters

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 317–323 | Cite as

Dielectrophoretic force measurement of red blood cells exposed to oxidative stress using optical tweezers and a microfluidic chip

  • Hee-Jae Jeon
  • Hyungbeen Lee
  • Dae Sung Yoon
  • Beop-Min Kim
Original Article


Red blood cell (RBC) dysfunction is often associated with a pathological intervention, and it has been proposed as a critical risk factor for certain lethal diseases. Examining the cell viability of RBCs under various physiological conditions is essential and of importance for precise diagnosis and drug discovery in the field of medicine and pharmacy. In this paper, we report a new analytical method that employs dielectrophoretic (DEP) force measurements in absolute units to assess the viability, and potentially the functionality of RBCs. We precisely quantify the frequency-dependent DEP forces of the RBCs by using a micro-electrode embedded chip combined with optical tweezers. DEP characteristics are known to be well-correlated with the viability of biological cells, and DEP forces are measured in both fresh and long-term stored RBCs to investigate the effect that the storage period has on the cell viability. Moreover, we investigate the DEP behavior of RBCs when exposed to oxidative stress and verify whether EDTA protects the RBCs from an oxidant. From the experiments, it is found that the fresh RBCs without oxidative stress display very high DEP forces over the entire frequency range, exhibiting two cutoff frequencies. However, both the RBCs stored for the long-term period and exposed to oxidative stress reveals that there exist no significant DEP forces over the frequency range. The results indicate that the DEP forces can serve as a useful parameter to verify whether the RBCs in certain blood are fresh and not exposed to oxidative stress. Therefore, it is believed that our system can be applied to a diagnostic system to monitor the cell viability of the RBCs or other types of cells.


DEP measurement Red blood cell Oxidative stress EDTA Protective effect 



This study was supported in part by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) with a grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2013R1A2A2A03005767, NRF-2013R1A1A2053613 and NRF-2015R1A5A7037674).


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Copyright information

© Korean Society of Medical and Biological Engineering and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biomedical EngineeringKorea UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Science and EngineeringGwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST)GwangjuKorea
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringYonsei UniversityWonjuSouth Korea

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