Separation of sperm and epithelial cells based on the hydrodynamic effect for forensic analysis.

PMID 26392829


In sexual assault cases, forensic samples are a mixture of sperm from the perpetrator and epithelial cells from the victim. To obtain an independent short tandem repeat (STR) profile of the perpetrator, sperm cells must be separated from the mixture of cells. However, the current method used in crime laboratories, namely, differential extraction, is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. To achieve a rapid and automated sample pretreatment process, we fabricated a microdevice for hydrodynamic and size-based separation of sperm and epithelial cells. When cells in suspension were introduced into the device's microfluidic channels, they were forced to flow along different streamlines and into different outlets due to their different diameters. With the proposed microdevice, sperm can be separated within a short period of time (0.5 h for a 50-μl mock sample). The STR profiles of the products in the sperm outlet reservoir demonstrated that a highly purified male DNA fraction could be obtained (94.0% male fraction). This microdevice is of low-cost and can be easily integrated with other subsequent analysis units, providing great potential in the process of analyzing sexual assault evidence as well as in other areas requiring cell sorting.