Scientific reports 2018 03 288(1) 5301 doi 10.1038/s41598-018-23591-0
White-blood-cell (WBC) assessment is employed for innumerable clinical procedures as one indicator of immune status. Currently, WBC determinations are obtained by clinical laboratory analysis of whole blood samples. Both the extraction of blood and its analysis limit the accessibility and frequency of the measurement. In this study, we demonstrate the feasibility of a non-invasive device to perform point-of-care WBC analysis without the need for blood draws, focusing on a chemotherapy setting where patients’ neutrophils-the most common type of WBC-become very low. In particular, we built a portable optical prototype, and used it to collect 22 microcirculatory-video datasets from 11 chemotherapy patients. Based on these videos, we identified moving optical absorption gaps in the flow of red cells, using them as proxies to WBC movement through nailfold capillaries. We then showed that counting these gaps allows discriminating cases of severe neutropenia (<500 neutrophils per µL), associated with increased risks of life-threatening infections, from non-neutropenic cases (>1,500 neutrophils per µL). This result suggests that the integration of optical imaging, consumer electronics, and data analysis can make non-invasive screening for severe neutropenia accessible to patients. More generally, this work provides a first step towards a long-term objective of non-invasive WBC counting.