Classification of cells with membrane staining and/or fixation based on cellular specific membrane capacitance and cytoplasm conductivity

Song Bin Huang, Yang Zhao, Deyong Chen, Shing Lun Liu, Yana Luo, Tzu Keng Chiu, Junbo Wang*, Jian Chen, Min Hsien Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

13 Scopus citations


Single-cell electrical properties (e.g., specific membrane capacitance (Cspecific membrane) and cytoplasm conductivity (σcytoplasm)) have been regarded as potential label-free biophysical markers for the evaluation of cellular status. However, whether there exist correlations between these biophysical markers and cellular status (e.g., membrane-associate protein expression) is still unknown. To further validate the utility of single-cell electrical properties in cell type classification, Cspecific membrane and σcytoplasm of single PC-3 cells with membrane staining and/or fixation were analyzed and compared in this study. Four subtypes of PC-3 cells were prepared: untreated PC-3 cells, PC-3 cells with anti-EpCAM staining, PC-3 cells with fixation, and fixed PC-3 cells with anti-EpCAM staining. In experiments, suspended single cells were aspirated through microfluidic constriction channels with raw impedance data quantified and translated to Cspecific membrane and σcytoplasm. As to experimental results, significant differences in Cspecific membrane were observed for both live and fixed PC-3 cells with and without membrane staining, indicating that membrane staining proteins can contribute to electrical properties of cellular membranes. In addition, a significant decrease in σcytoplasm was located for PC-3 cells with and without fixation, suggesting that cytoplasm protein crosslinking during the fixation process can alter the cytoplasm conductivity. Overall, we have demonstrated how to classify single cells based on cellular electrical properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the authors.


  • Cellular electrical properties
  • Cytoplasm conductivity
  • Microfluidics
  • Single-cell analysis
  • Specific membrane capacitance


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