Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Label-free isolation of prostate circulating tumor cells using Vortex microfluidic technology


There has been increased interest in utilizing non-invasive "liquid biopsies" to identify biomarkers for cancer prognosis and monitoring, and to isolate genetic material that can predict response to targeted therapies. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have emerged as such a biomarker providing both genetic and phenotypic information about tumor evolution, potentially from both primary and metastatic sites. Currently, available CTC isolation approaches, including immunoaffinity and size-based filtration, have focused on high capture efficiency but with lower purity and often long and manual sample preparation, which limits the use of captured CTCs for downstream analyses. Here, we describe the use of the microfluidic Vortex Chip for size-based isolation of CTCs from 22 patients with advanced prostate cancer and, from an enumeration study on 18 of these patients, find that we can capture CTCs with high purity (from 1.74 to 37.59%) and efficiency (from 1.88 to 93.75 CTCs/7.5 mL) in less than 1 h. Interestingly, more atypical large circulating cells were identified in five age-matched healthy donors (46-77 years old; 1.25-2.50 CTCs/7.5 mL) than in five healthy donors <30 years old (21-27 years old; 0.00 CTC/7.5 mL). Using a threshold calculated from the five age-matched healthy donors (3.37 CTCs/mL), we identified CTCs in 80% of the prostate cancer patients. We also found that a fraction of the cells collected (11.5%) did not express epithelial prostate markers (cytokeratin and/or prostate-specific antigen) and that some instead expressed markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, i.e., vimentin and N-cadherin. We also show that the purity and DNA yield of isolated cells is amenable to targeted amplification and next-generation sequencing, without whole genome amplification, identifying unique mutations in 10 of 15 samples and 0 of 4 healthy samples.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View