Project Etablierung von Rasterkraftmikroskopie zur Messung viskoelastischen Eigenschaften von lebenden Zellen auf…

Basic data

Etablierung von Rasterkraftmikroskopie zur Messung viskoelastischen Eigenschaften von lebenden Zellen auf elastischen Substraten
12/07/2016 to 12/07/2017
Abstract / short description:
Most, if not all tissue cells sense and response to the stiffness of their microenvironment by changes in cell shape, gene and protein expression, cytoskeletal state, and mechanical properties [1]. This ability is involved in many essential cellular processes such as migration [2, 3], stem cell differentiation [4], proliferation [5], as well as in tissue development [6] and diseases [7, 8]. However, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood [9], and the change in the cells’ cellular viscoelastic properties in response to the stiffness of the microenvironment, which might provide a powerful readout for cellular mechanosensing, has rarely been investigated. This project aims to fill this important gap and establish a method based on atomic force microscopy [10] (AFM) for measuring the viscoelastic properties of live cells on soft, elastic substrates. AFM by itself is a well-established and widely-used technique to probe the mechanical properties of live cells with sub-cellular resolution [11]. Current AFM approaches almost always aim at determining purely elastic cell properties. However, cells partly behave also viscously, and viscoelastic cell properties might provide a much more sensitive and meaningful readout than elastic properties alone. By combining my strength in modeling AFM-based rheology experiments and the host’s expertise in mechanobiology and experimental AFM approaches to understand cell function, this trip will enable us to implement viscoelasticity measurements of cells in cultures on substrates with physiologically relevant mechanical properties, which might provide new fundamental insights into the mechanobiology of living cells.

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11. Radmacher, M., et al., Measuring the viscoelastic properties of human platelets with the atomic force microscope. Biophys. J., 1996. 70(1): p. 556-567.



Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Institute of Applied Physics (IAP)
Department of Physics
Faculty of Science


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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