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Levitating Cells to Sort the Fit and the Fat

About this publication:

Nazan Puluca, PhD, and colleagues harnessed magnetic levitation to segregate cardiomyocytes (CM) based on intrinsic density variations from lipid content differences. Applied to cell lines derived from samples obtained from human subjects with neutral lipid storage disease, real-time monitoring of the levitation profile allowed detection of distinct subpopulations within the same cell subtype. Microscopy and patch-clamp electrophysiology experiments on sorted cells revealed new insights into lipid accumulation’s impact on CM structure and function.
Publication summary

The ability to sort cells based on their intrinsic characteristics hold significant promise for biomedical applications such as multi-omics analyses in precision medicine and regenerative repair. Nazan Puluca, PhD, and colleagues applied magnetic levitation to monitor and sort cells in real-time based on their levitation profiles, which are determined by their density and magnetic susceptibility. By applying this to cardiomyocytes (CM) from samples derived from human subjects with Neutral Lipid Storage Disease (NLSD) resulting from a malfunction in adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), they identified distinct subpopulations within ATGL-deficient CM. The cells settled at unique levitation heights because of their differing lipid contents, enabling their efficient and gentle separation in real-time without labels—a feat impossible with traditional tools like flow cytometry or bead-based methods. Cellular functionality was also maintained. The density-based sorting preserved cardiomyocyte contractility and did not compromise intracellular sarcomeric alignment. Notably, the study unveiled the impaired sarcomeric alignment in ATGL-deficient CM compared to healthy cells for the first time. Cellular electrophysiological tests further indicated functional action potentials in the CM while highlighting arrhythmic events in the ATGL-deficient CM, linking cellular lipid accumulation to electrical propagation disruptions.

Levitation Technology uses intrinsic cell properties for gentle viability enrichment

The magnetic levitation approach in this study showcased the potential of using fundamental cellular properties as a distinctive biophysical marker, enabling detailed profiling of different cell types and their variations. This approach has evolved into the core Levitation Technology™ found in the LeviCell® systems, which capitalizes on this principle to enhance sample quality by separating viable cells from dead cells and debris without the requirement of cell labeling. The LeviCell platform stands out from traditional separation methods, offering a more efficient and gentle approach for live cell enrichment that ensures the maintenance of native cell states for diverse downstream applications, including single-cell multi-omics analyses. Moreover, the LeviCell platform boasts a unique real-time visualization feature, allowing researchers to witness cells in levitation throughout the process. This capability enables sample quality assessment, observation of cell population heterogeneity or behavior, and the extraction