Electrical detection of innate immune cells

Mahmoud Al Ahmad, Rasha A. Nasser, Lillian J.A. Olule, Bassam R. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Accurately classifying the innate immune players is essential to comprehensively and quantitatively evaluate the interactions between the innate and the adaptive immune systems. In addition, accurate classification enables the development of models to predict behavior and to improve prospects for therapeutic manipulation of inflammatory diseases and cancer. Rapid development in technologies that provide an accurate definition of the type of cell in action, allows the field of innate immunity to the lead in therapy developments. This article presents a novel immunophenotyping technique using electrical characterization to differentiate between the two most important cell types of the innate immune system: Dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages (MACs). The electrical characterization is based on capacitance measurements, which is a reliable marker for cell surface area and hence cell size. We differentiated THP-1 cells into DCs and MACs in vitro and conducted electrical measurements on the three cell types. The results showed average capacitance readings of 0.83 uF, 0.93 uF, and 1.01 uF for THP-1, DCs, and MACs, respectively. This corresponds to increasing cell size since capacitance is directly proportional to area. The results were verified with image processing. Image processing was used for verification because unlike conventional techniques, especially flow cytometry, it avoids cross referencing and by-passes the limitation of a lack of specificity of markers used to detect the different cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5886
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2021


  • Dendritic cells
  • Electrical characterization
  • Image processing
  • Immune system
  • Macrophages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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