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Nanotechnology. 2012 Feb 24;23(7):075101. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/7/075101. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Probing cellular traction forces with magnetic nanowires and microfabricated force sensor arrays.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


In this paper, the use of magnetic nanowires for the study of cellular response to force is demonstrated. High-aspect ratio Ni rods with diameter 300 nm and lengths up to 20 μm were bound to or internalized by pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (SMCs) cultured on arrays of flexible micropost force sensors. Forces and torques were applied to the cells by driving the nanowires with AC magnetic fields in the frequency range 0.1-10 Hz, and the changes in cellular contractile forces were recorded with the microposts. These local stimulations yield global force reinforcement of the cells' traction forces, but this contractile reinforcement can be effectively suppressed upon addition of a calcium channel blocker, ruthenium red, suggesting the role of calcium channels in the mechanical response. The responsiveness of the SMCs to actuation depends on the frequency of the applied stimulation. These results show that the combination of magnetic nanoparticles and micropatterned, flexible substrates can provide new approaches to the study of cellular mechanotransduction.

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