Quantifying single cell rheology by atomic force microscopy
The living cell is a compliant, viscoelastic material with a highly dynamic and continuously remodeling cytoskeleton. The rheological properties of living cells are expected to be useful mechanical indicators for various types of cell diseases. However, the cell rheological properties exhibit large spatial, temporal and intrinsic variations even among individual cells of the same source and type, and thus such large distributions complicate the statistical evaluation of pharmacological treatments and the comparison of different cell states. In this article, we review how the intrinsic variations of single cell rheology are quantified by atomic force microscopy (AFM) such as multi-frequency force modulation AFM and AFM combined with microfabricated substrates. We emphasize that AFM techniques unveil the cell-to-cell variability and an ergodic hypothesis of cell power-law rheological properties, both of which are crucial for single cell diagnosis at the truly single cell level.
- 1 Graduate School of Information Science and technology, Hokkaido University