The necessity for bone marrow aspiration and the lack of highly sensitive assays to detect residual disease present challenges for effective management of multiple myeloma (MM), a plasma cell cancer. We show that a microfluidic cell capture based on CD138 antigen, which is highly expressed on plasma cells, permits quantitation of rare circulating plasma cells (CPCs) in blood and subsequent fluorescence-based assays. The microfluidic device is based on a herringbone channel design, and exhibits an estimated cell capture efficiency of ∼40-70%, permitting detection of <10 CPCs/mL using 1-mL sample volumes, which is difficult using existing techniques. In bone marrow samples, the microfluidic-based plasma cell counts exhibited excellent correlation with flow cytometry analysis. In peripheral blood samples, the device detected a baseline of 2-5 CD138 + cells/mL in healthy donor blood, with significantly higher numbers in blood samples of MM patients in remission (20-24 CD138 + cells/mL), and yet higher numbers in MM patients exhibiting disease (45-184 CD138 + cells/mL). Analysis of CPCs isolated using the device was consistent with serum immunoglobulin assays that are commonly used in MM diagnostics. These results indicate the potential of CD138-based microfluidic CPC capture as a useful â € liquid biopsy' that may complement or partially replace bone marrow aspiration.
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