Droplet microfluidic platform for the determination of single-cell lactate release

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American Chemical Society


Cancer cells release high levels of lactate that has been correlated to increased metastasis and tumor recurrence. Single-cell measurements of lactate release can identify malignant cells and help decipher metabolic cancer pathways. We present here a novel droplet microfluidic method that allows the fast and quantitative determination of lactate release in many single cells. Using passive forces, droplets encapsulated cells are positioned in an array. The single-cell lactate release rate is determined from the increase in droplet fluorescence as the lactate is enzymatically converted to a fluorescent product. The method is used to measure the cell-to-cell variance of lactate release in K562 leukemia and U87 glioblastoma cancer cell lines and under the chemical inhibition of lactate efflux. The technique can be used in the study of cancer biology, but more broadly in cell biology, to capture the full range of stochastic variations in glycolysis activity in heterogeneous cell populations in a repeatable and high-throughput manner.