Dielectrophoresis-Mediated Electrodeformation as a Means of Determining Individual Platelet Stiffness

Siu Ling Leung, Yi Lu, Danny Bluestein, Marvin J. Slepian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Platelets, essential for hemostasis, are easily activated via biochemical and mechanical stimuli. Cell stiffness is a vital parameter modulating the mechano-transduction of exogenous mechanical stimuli. While methods exist to measure cell stiffness, no ready method exists for measuring platelet stiffness that is both minimally-contacting, imparting minimal exogenous force and non-activating. We developed a minimal-contact methodology capable of trapping and measuring the stiffness of individual platelets utilizing dielectrophoresis (DEP)-mediated electrodeformation. Parametric studies demonstrate a non-uniform electric field in the MHz frequency range (0.2–20 MHz) is required for generating effective DEP forces on platelets, suspended in isotonic buffer with conductivity ~100–200 μS/cm. A nano-Newton DEP force (0.125–4.5 nN) was demonstrated to be essential for platelet electrodeformation, which could be generated with an electric field with strength of 1.5–9 V/μm. Young’s moduli of platelets were calculated using a Maxwell stress tensor model and stress-deformation relationship. Platelet stiffness was determined to be in the range of 3.5 ± 1.4 and 8.5 ± 1.5 kPa for resting and 0.4% paraformaldehyde-treated cells, respectively. The developed methodology fills a gap in approaches of measuring individual platelet stiffness, free of inadvertent platelet activation, which will facilitate further studies of mechanisms involved in mechanically-mediated platelet activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-913
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Cell stiffness
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • Electrodeformation
  • Electrodeformation
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Platelets
  • Young’s modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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