Integrating immunology and microfluidics for single immune cell analysis

Nidhi Sinha, Nikita Subedi, Jurjen Tel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
361 Downloads (Pure)


The field of immunoengineering aims to develop novel therapies and modern vaccines to manipulate and modulate the immune system and applies innovative technologies toward improved understanding of the immune system in health and disease. Microfluidics has proven to be an excellent technology for analytics in biology and chemistry. From simple microsystem chips to complex microfluidic designs, these platforms have witnessed an immense growth over the last decades with frequent emergence of new designs. Microfluidics provides a highly robust and precise tool which led to its widespread application in single-cell analysis of immune cells. Single-cell analysis allows scientists to account for the heterogeneous behavior of immune cells which often gets overshadowed when conventional bulk study methods are used. Application of single-cell analysis using microfluidics has facilitated the identification of several novel functional immune cell subsets, quantification of signaling molecules, and understanding of cellular communication and signaling pathways. Single-cell analysis research in combination with microfluidics has paved the way for the development of novel therapies, point-of-care diagnostics, and even more complex microfluidic platforms that aid in creating in vitro cellular microenvironments for applications in drug and toxicity screening. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview on the integration of microsystems and microfluidics with immunology and focus on different designs developed to decode single immune cell behavior and cellular communication. We have categorized the microfluidic designs in three specific categories: microfluidic chips with cell traps, valve-based microfluidics, and droplet microfluidics that have facilitated the ongoing research in the field of immunology at single-cell level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2373
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2018


  • Cellular communication
  • Cellular heterogeneity
  • Immunoengineering
  • Microfluidics
  • Single-cell analysis
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques
  • Immunoassay
  • Single-Cell Analysis/methods
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics/methods
  • Cell Communication
  • Immune System/cytology
  • Animals


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