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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Senescence chips for ultrahigh-throughput isolation and removal of senescent cells.


Cellular senescence plays an important role in organismal aging and age-related diseases. However, it is challenging to isolate low numbers of senescent cells from small volumes of biofluids for downstream analysis. Furthermore, there is no technology that could selectively remove senescent cells in a high-throughput manner. In this work, we developed a novel microfluidic chip platform, termed senescence chip, for ultrahigh-throughput isolation and removal of senescent cells. The core component of our senescence chip is a slanted and tunable 3D micropillar array with a variety of shutters in the vertical direction for rapid cell sieving, taking advantage of the characteristic cell size increase during cellular senescence. The 3D configuration achieves high throughput, high recovery rate, and device robustness with minimum clogging. We demonstrated proof-of-principle applications in isolation and enumeration of senescent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from undiluted human whole blood, and senescent cells from mouse bone marrow after total body irradiation, with the single-cell resolution. After scale-up to a multilayer and multichannel structure, our senescence chip achieved ultrahigh-throughput removal of senescent cells from human whole blood with an efficiency of over 70% at a flow rate of 300 ml/hr. Sensitivity and specificity of our senescence chips could be augmented with implementation of multiscale size separation, and identification of background white blood cells using their cell surface markers such as CD45. With the advantages of high throughput, robustness, and simplicity, our senescence chips may find wide applications and contribute to diagnosis and therapeutic targeting of cellular senescence.

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