Surface engineering for efficient capture of circulating tumor cells in renal cell carcinoma: From nanoscale analysis to clinical application

Jiyoon Bu, Ashita Nair, Luke J. Kubiatowicz, Michael J. Poellmann, Woo jin Jeong, Marco Reyes-Martinez, Andrew J. Armstrong, Daniel J. George, Andrew Z. Wang, Tian Zhang, Seungpyo Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Sensitive detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from patients' peripheral blood facilitates on-demand monitoring of tumor progression. However, clinically significant capture of renal cell carcinoma CTCs (RCC-CTCs) remains elusive due to their heterogenous surface receptor expression. Herein, a novel capture platform is developed to detect RCC-CTCs through integration of dendrimer-mediated multivalent binding, a mixture of antibodies, and biomimetic cell rolling. The nanoscale binding kinetics measured using atomic force microscopy reveal that dendrimer-coated surfaces exhibit an order of magnitude enhancement in off-rate kinetics compared to surface without dendrimers, which translated into cell capture improvements by ~60%. Selectin-induced cell rolling facilitates surface recruitment of cancer cells, further improving cancer cell capture by up to 1.7-fold. Lastly, an antibody cocktail targeting four RCC-CTC surface receptors, which included epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and hepatocyte growth factor receptor (c-Met), improves the capture of RCC cells by up to 80%. The optimal surface configuration outperforms the conventional assay solely relying on EpCAM, as demonstrated by detecting significantly more CTCs in patients’ samples (9.8 ± 5.1 vs. 1.8 ± 2.0 CTCs mL-1). These results demonstrate that the newly engineered capture platform effectively detects RCC-CTCs for their potential use as tumor biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112250
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Aug 15 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomimetic cell rolling
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Dendrimer-mediated multivalent binding effect
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Renal cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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