Cell spreading on quartz crystal microbalance elicits positive frequency shifts indicative of viscosity changes

Galli Marxer, Carine; Collaud Coen, Martine; Greber, Thomas; Greber, Urs F.; Schlapbach, Louis
October 2003
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Oct2003, Vol. 377 Issue 3, p578
Academic Journal
Cell attachment and spreading on solid surfaces was investigated with a home-made quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), which measures the frequency, the transient decay time constant and the maximal oscillation amplitude. Initial interactions of the adsorbing cells with the QCM mainly induced a decrease of the frequency, coincident with mass adsorption. After about 80 min, the frequency increased continuously and after several hours exceeded the initial frequency measured before cell adsorption. Phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy indicated that the cells were firmly attached to the quartz surface during the frequency increase. The measurements of the maximal oscillation amplitude and the transient decay time constant revealed changes of viscoelastic properties at the QCM surface. An important fraction of these changes was likely due to alterations of cytosolic viscosity, as suggested by treatments of the attached cells with agents affecting the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton. Our results show that viscosity variations of cells can affect the resonance frequency of QCM in the absence of apparent cell desorption. The simultaneous measurements of the maximal oscillation amplitude, the transient decay time constant and the resonance frequency allow an analysis of cell adsorption to solid substratum in real time and complement cell biological methods.


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