This paper reports the first study of stiffness/deformability changes of lymphocytes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients, demonstrating that at the single cell level, leukemic metastasis progresses are accompanied by biophysical property alterations. A microfluidic device was utilized to electrically measure cell volume and transit time of single lymphocytes from healthy and CLL patients. The results from testing thousands of cells reveal that lymphocytes from CLL patients have higher stiffness (i.e., lower deformability), as compared to lymphocytes in healthy samples, which was also confirmed by AFM indentation tests. This observation is in sharp contrast to the known knowledge on other types of metastatic cells (e.g., breast and lung cancer cells) whose stiffness becomes lower as metastasis progresses.
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