Virus removal from semen with a pinched flow fractionation microfluidic chip

Tanja Hamacher*, Johanna T.W. Berendsen, Jeanne E. van Dongen, Regine M. van der Hee, J.J.L.M. Cornelissen, Marleen L.W.J. Broekhuijse, Loes I. Segerink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Nowadays pigs are bred with artificial insemination to reduce costs and transportation. To prevent the spread of diseases, it is important to test semen samples for viruses. Screening techniques applied are enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and/or polymerase chain reaction, which are labor-intensive and expensive methods. In contrast to the current used screening techniques, it is possible to remove viruses physically from semen. However, existing methods for virus removal techniques have a low yield of spermatozoa. Therefore, we have developed a microfluidic chip that performs size-based separation of viruses and spermatozoa in boar semen samples, thereby having the potential to reduce the risk of disease spreading in the context of artificial insemination in the veterinary industry. As the head of a spermatozoon is at least twenty times larger than a virus particle, the particle size can be used to achieve separation, resulting in a semen sample with lower viral load and of higher quality. To achieve the size separation, our microfluidic device is based on pinched-flow fractionation. A model virus, cowpea chlorotic mottle virus, was used and spiked to porcine semen samples. With the proposed microfluidic chip and the optimized flow parameters, at least 84 ± 4% of the model viruses were removed from the semen. The remaining virus contamination is caused by the model virus adhering to spermatozoa instead of the separation technique. The spermatozoa recovery was 86 ± 6%, which is an enormous improvement in yield compared to existing virus removal techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4477-4486
Number of pages10
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number22
Early online date12 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2021


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