High-throughput microsphiltration to assess red blood cell deformability and screen for malaria transmission-blocking drugs

June 1, 2018

The Biomek dispenser series has been selected to prepare microsphiltration plates in different international laboratories28, but other dispensers of equivalent hydraulic power and functionalities can be used, as for instance, those of the Freedom EVO series (Tecan)15.

The mechanical retention of rigid erythrocytes in the spleen is central in major hematological diseases such as hereditary spherocytosis, sickle-cell disease and malaria. Here, we describe the use of microsphiltration (microsphere filtration) to assess erythrocyte deformability in hundreds to thousands of samples in parallel, by filtering them through microsphere layers in 384-well plates adapted for the discovery of compounds that stiffen Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, with the aim of interrupting malaria transmission. Compound-exposed gametocytes are loaded into microsphiltration plates, filtered and then transferred to imaging plates for analysis. High-content imaging detects viable gametocytes upstream and downstream from filters and quantifies spleen-like retention. This screening assay takes 3-4 d. Unlike currently available methods used to assess red blood cell (RBC) deformability, microsphiltration enables high-throughput pharmacological screening (tens of thousands of compounds tested in a matter of months) and involves a cell mechanical challenge that induces a physiologically relevant dumbbell-shape deformation. It therefore directly assesses the ability of RBCs to cross inter-endothelial splenic slits in vivo. This protocol has potential applications in quality control for transfusion and in determination of phenotypic markers of erythrocytes in hematological diseases.

Duez, J; Carucci, M; Garcia-Barbazan, I; Corral, M; Perez, O; Presa, JL; Henry, B; Roussel, C; Ndour, PA; Rosa, NB; Sanz, L; Gamo, FJ; Buffet, P;

Journal: Nat Protoc Pages: 1362-1376

Original article (29844524)