Size-based separation methods of circulating tumor cells

Si Jie Hao, Yuan Wan, Yi Qiu Xia, Xin Zou, Si Yang Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) originate from the primary tumor mass and enter into the peripheral bloodstream. Compared to other “liquid biopsy” portfolios such as exosome, circulating tumor DNA/RNA (ctDNA/RNA), CTCs have incomparable advantages in analyses of transcriptomics, proteomics, and signal colocalization. Hence, CTCs hold the key to understanding the biology of metastasis and play a vital role in cancer diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and prognosis. Size-based enrichment features are prominent in CTC isolation. It is a label-free, simple and fast method. Enriched CTCs remain unmodified and viable for a wide range of subsequent analyses. In this review, we comprehensively summarize the differences of size and deformability between CTCs and blood cells, which would facilitate the development of technologies of size-based CTC isolation. Then we review representative size-/deformability-based technologies available for CTC isolation and highlight the recent achievements in molecular analysis of isolated CTCs. To wrap up, we discuss the substantial challenges facing the field, and elaborate on prospects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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