Atomic force microscopy provides a novel technique for differentiating the mechanical properties of various cell types. Cell elasticity is abundantly used to represent the structural strength of cells in different conditions. In this study, we are interested in whether physical or physiological cues affect cell elasticity in Atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based assessments. The physical cues include the geometry of the AFM tips, the indenting force and the operating temperature of the AFM. All of these cues show a significant influence on the cell elasticity assessment. Sharp AFM tips create a two-fold increase in the value of the effective Young's modulus (Eeff) relative to that of the blunt tips. Higher indenting force at the same loading rate generates higher estimated cell elasticity. Increasing the operation temperature of the AFM leads to decreases in the cell stiffness because the structure of actin filaments becomes disorganized. The physiological cues include the presence of fetal bovine serum or extracellular matrix-coated surfaces, the culture passage number, and the culture density. Both fetal bovine serum and the extracellular matrix are critical for cells to maintain the integrity of actin filaments and consequently exhibit higher elasticity. Unlike primary cells, mouse kidney progenitor cells can be passaged and maintain their morphology and elasticity for a very long period without a senescence phenotype. Finally, cell elasticity increases with increasing culture density only in MDCK epithelial cells. In summary, for researchers who use AFM to assess cell elasticity, our results provide basic and significant information about the suitable selection of physical and physiological cues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)