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Biophys J. 2006 Nov 1;91(9):3508-18. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Rheology of passive and adhesion-activated neutrophils probed by atomic force microscopy.

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  • 1Unitat de Biofísica i Bioenginyeria, Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona-IDIBAPS, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.


The rheology of neutrophils in their passive and activated states plays a key role in determining their function in response to inflammatory stimuli. Atomic force microscopy was used to study neutrophil rheology by measuring the complex shear modulus G*(omega) of passive nonadhered rat neutrophils on poly(HEMA) and neutrophils activated through adhesion to glass. G*(omega) was measured over three frequency decades (0.1-102.4 Hz) by indenting the cells 500 nm with a spherical tip and then applying a 50-nm amplitude multi-frequency signal. G*(omega) of both passive and adhered neutrophils increased as a power law with frequency, with a coupling between elastic (G') and loss (G'') moduli. For passive neutrophils at 1.6 Hz, G' = 380 +/- 121 Pa, whereas G'' was fourfold smaller and the power law coefficient was of x = 1.184. Adhered neutrophils were over twofold stiffer with a lower slope (x = 1.148). This behavior was adequately described by the power law structural damping model but not by liquid droplet and Kelvin models. The increase in stiffness with frequency may modulate neutrophil transit, arrest, and transmigration in vascular microcirculation.

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