Combining microfluidic chip and low-attachment culture devices to isolate oral cancer stem cells

Hsin Hu Chen, Thanh Hien Vu Nguyen, Yin Hwa Shih, Kai Chi Chang, Kuo Chou Chiu, Shih Min Hsia, Lih Jyh Fuh, Tzong Ming Shieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/purpose: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are widely recognized as key drivers of cancer initiation, progression, and therapeutic resistance. Microfluidic chip technology offers a promising approach for CSC isolation and study. This study investigated the efficacy of a microfluidic chip-based method for isolating single cells from oral cancer cell lines characterized by high stem-like phenotypes. Specifically, the study focused on examining the sphere-forming capability and the expression of CSC markers, including aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 (ALDH1A1), CD44, and CD133, in isolated cell clones from OECM-1 and SAS cell lines. Materials and methods: Oral cancer cell lines were subjected to isolation using a microfluidic chip. The captured single cells were cultured to assess their sphere-forming capacity in ultra-low binding culture. Furthermore, the protein expression levels of ALDH1A1, CD44, and CD133 in the isolated cell clones were analyzed using western blotting. Results: The microfluidic chip-assisted isolation method significantly enhanced the sphere-forming capability of both OECM-1 and SAS cell clones compared to their parent cell lines. Moreover, the expression levels of CSC markers ALDH1A1, CD44, and CD133 were upregulated in the microfluidic chip-assisted isolated cell clones, indicating a higher stem-like phenotype. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the microfluidic chip-based approach in isolating oral cancer cell clones with elevated stem-like characteristics. This method offers a valuable tool for further investigation of CSCs and their role in cancer progression, as well as future therapy development for oral cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-567
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1
  • Cancer stem cells
  • CD133
  • CD44
  • Microfluidic chip
  • Oral cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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