Distinguishing between intact cells, dead but still whole cells, and cell debris is an important but difficult task in life sciences. The most common way to identify dead cells is using a cell-impermeant DNA binding dye, such as propidium iodide. A healthy living cell has an intact cell membrane and will act as a barrier to the dye so that it cannot enter the cell. A dead cell has a compromised cell membrane, and it will allow the dye into the cell to bind to the DNA and become fluorescent. The dead cells therefore will be positive and the live cells will be negative. The dead cells later deteriorate quickly into debris. Different pieces of debris from a single cell can be incorrectly identified as separate dead cells. Although a flow cytometer can quickly perform numerous quantitative, sensitive measurements on each individual cell to determine the viability of cells within a large, heterogeneous population, it is bulky, expensive, and only large hospitals and laboratories can afford them. In this work, we show that the distance-dependent coupling of fluorophore light to surface plasmon coupled emission (SPCE) from fluorescently-labeled cells can be used to distinguish whole cells from cell debris. Once the fluorescent labels are excited by a laser, the fluorescently-labeled whole cells create two distinct intensity rings in the far-field, in contrast to fluorescently-labeled cell debris, which only creates one ring. The distinct far-field patterns can be captured by camera and used to distinguish between whole cells and cell debris.
Muhammad A. Talukder, Curtis R. Menyuk, and Yordan Kostov, "Distinguishing between whole cells and cell debris using surface plasmon coupled emission (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10068, Imaging, Manipulation, and Analysis of Biomolecules, Cells, and Tissues XV, 100680D (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2250342.5380018851001.
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