Flow-through electroporation based on constant voltage for large-volume transfection of cells

Tao Geng, Yihong Zhan, Hsiang Yu Wang, Scott R. Witting, Kenneth G. Cornetta, Chang Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations


Genetic modification of cells is a critical step involved in many cell therapy and gene therapy protocols. In these applications, cell samples of large volume (108-109cells) are often processed for transfection. This poses new challenges for current transfection methods and practices. Here we present a novel flow-through electroporation method for delivery of genes into cells at high flow rates (up to ~20mL/min) based on disposable microfluidic chips, a syringe pump, and a low-cost direct current (DC) power supply that provides a constant voltage. By eliminating pulse generators used in conventional electroporation, we dramatically lowered the cost of the apparatus and improved the stability and consistency of the electroporation field for long-time operation. We tested the delivery of pEFGP-C1 plasmids encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein into Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-K1) cells in the devices of various dimensions and geometries. Cells were mixed with plasmids and then flowed through a fluidic channel continuously while a constant voltage was established across the device. Together with the applied voltage, the geometry and dimensions of the fluidic channel determined the electrical parameters of the electroporation. With the optimal design, ~75% of the viable CHO cells were transfected after the procedure. We also generalize the guidelines for scaling up these flow-through electroporation devices. We envision that this technique will serve as a generic and low-cost tool for a variety of clinical applications requiring large volume of transfected cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Constant voltage
  • Disposable device
  • Electroporation
  • Large volume
  • Transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

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