Computer simulations of the energy dissipation rate in a fluorescence-activated cell sorter: Implications to cells

Mike Mollet, Ruben Godoy-Silva, Claudia Berdugo, Jeffrey J Chalmers
Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2008 June 1, 100 (2): 260-72
Fluorescence activated cell sorting, FACS, is a widely used method to sort subpopulations of cells to high purities. To achieve relatively high sorting speeds, FACS instruments operate by forcing suspended cells to flow in a single file line through a laser(s) beam(s). Subsequently, this flow stream breaks up into individual drops which can be charged and deflected into multiple collection streams. Previous work by Ma et al. (2002) and Mollet et al. (2007; Biotechnol Bioeng 98:772-788) indicates that subjecting cells to hydrodynamic forces consisting of both high extensional and shear components in micro-channels results in significant cell damage. Using the fluid dynamics software FLUENT, computer simulations of typical fluid flow through the nozzle of a BD FACSVantage indicate that hydrodynamic forces, quantified using the scalar parameter energy dissipation rate, are similar in the FACS nozzle to levels reported to create significant cell damage in micro-channels. Experimental studies in the FACSVantage, operated under the same conditions as the simulations confirmed significant cell damage in two cell lines, Chinese Hamster Ovary cells (CHO) and THP1, a human acute monocytic leukemia cell line.

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