Single-cell analysis is of critical importance in revealing cell-to-cell heterogeneity by characterizing individual cells and identifying minority sub-populations of interest. Droplet-based microfluidics has been widely used in the past decade to achieve high-throughput single-cell analysis. However, to maximize the proportion of single-cell emulsification is challenging due to cell sedimentation and aggregation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of single-cell encapsulation and incubation through the use of neutral buoyancy. As a proof of concept, OptiPrep™ was used to create neutrally buoyant cell suspensions of THP-1, a human monocytic leukemia cell line, for single-cell encapsulation and incubation. We found that using a neutrally buoyant suspension greatly increased the efficiency of single-cell encapsulation in microdroplets and eliminated unnecessary cell loss. Moreover, the presence of OptiPrep™ was shown to not affect cellular viability. This method significantly improved the effectiveness of single-cell study in a non-toxic environment and is expected to broadly facilitate single-cell analysis.
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