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Eur Biophys J. 2011 Sep;40(9):1109-14. doi: 10.1007/s00249-011-0723-2. Epub 2011 Jun 18.

Single cell viability and impact of heating by laser absorption.

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Department of Physics and Earth Science, Soft Matter Physics Division, Institute of Experimental Physics I, University of Leipzig, Linnéstrasse 5, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Optical traps such as tweezers and stretchers are widely used to probe the mechanical properties of cells. Beyond their large range of applications, the use of infrared laser light in optical traps causes significant heating effects in the cell. This study investigated the effect of laser-induced heating on cell viability. Common viability assays are not very sensitive to damages caused in short periods of time or are not practicable for single cell analysis. We used cell spreading, a vital ability of cells, as a new sensitive viability marker. The optical stretcher, a two beam laser trap, was used to simulate heat shocks that cells typically experience during measurements in optical traps. The results show that about 60% of the cells survived heat shocks without vital damage at temperatures of up to 58 ± 2°C for 0.5 s. By varying the duration of the heat shocks, it was shown that 60% of the cells stayed viable when exposed to 48 ± 2°C for 5 s.

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