Rapid detection and trapping of extracellular vesicles by electrokinetic concentration for liquid biopsy on chip

Lucia S. Cheung, Sarah Sahloul, Ajymurat Orozaliev, Yong Ak Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exosomes have gained immense importance since their proteomic and genetic contents could potentially be used for disease diagnostics, monitoring of cancer progression, metastasis, and drug efficacy. However, establishing the clinical utility of exosomes has been restricted due to small sizes and high sample loss from extensive sample preparation. Sample loss is particularly critical for body fluids limited in volume and difficult to access, e.g., cerebrospinal fluid. We present a microfluidic technique that locally enhances the concentration of extracellular vesicles extracted from MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell lines by using an ion concentration polarization (ICP)-based electrokinetic concentrator. Our design incorporates a trapping mechanism near the conductive polymer membrane; therefore, we can preconcentrate and capture extracellular vesicles simultaneously. Compared with standard fluorescence detection, our method increased the limit of detection (LOD) of extracellular vesicles by two orders of magnitude in 30 min. Our concentrator increased the extracellular vesicle concentration for 5.0 × 107 particles/1 mL (LOD), 5.0 × 108 particles/1 mL, and 5.0 × 109 particles/1 mL by ~100-fold each within 30 min using 45 V. This study demonstrates an alternative platform to simultaneously preconcentrate and capture extracellular vesicles that can be incorporated as part of a liquid biopsy-on-a-chip system for the detection of exosomal biomarkers and analysis of their contents for early cancer diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number306
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 19 2018


  • Biomarkers
  • Electrokinetic concentration
  • Exosomes
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Ion concentration polarization
  • Liquid biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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