Journal of biomedical materials research. Part A

Immobilized surfactant-nanotube complexes support selectin-mediated capture of viable circulating tumor cells in the absence of capture antibodies.

PMID 25761664


The metastatic spread of tumor cells from the primary site to anatomically distant organs leads to a poor patient prognosis. Increasing evidence has linked adhesive interactions between circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and endothelial cells to metastatic dissemination. Microscale biomimetic flow devices hold promise as a diagnostic tool to isolate CTCs and develop metastatic therapies, utilizing E-selectin (ES) to trigger the initial rolling adhesion of tumor cells under flow. To trigger firm adhesion and capture under flow, such devices also typically require antibodies against biomarkers thought to be expressed on CTCs. This approach is challenged by the fact that CTCs are now known to exhibit heterogeneous expression of conventional biomarkers. Here, we describe surfactant-nanotube complexes to enhance ES-mediated capture and isolation of tumor cells without the use of capture antibodies. While the majority of tumor cells exhibited weaker rolling adhesion on halloysite nanotubes (HNT) coated with ES, HNT functionalization with the sodium dodecanoate (NaL) surfactant induced a switch to firm cellular adhesion under flow. Conversely, surfactant-nanotube complexes significantly reduced the number of primary human leukocytes captured via ES-mediated adhesion under flow. The switch in tumor cell adhesion was exploited to capture and isolate tumor cells in the absence of EpCAM antibodies, commonly utilized as the gold standard for CTC isolation. Additionally, HNT-NaL complexes were shown to capture tumor cells with low to negligible EpCAM expression, that are not efficiently captured using conventional approaches.