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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2014 Sep;40(9):2172-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2014.03.018. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

Non-contact high-frequency ultrasound microbeam stimulation for studying mechanotransduction in human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

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Department of Information and Communication Engineering, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology, Daegu, Korea. Electronic address:
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Department of Electrical Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


We describe how contactless high-frequency ultrasound microbeam stimulation (HFUMS) is capable of eliciting cytoplasmic calcium (Ca(2+)) elevation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. The cellular mechanotransduction process, which includes cell sensing and adaptation to the mechanical micro-environment, has been studied extensively in recent years. A variety of tools for mechanical stimulation have been developed to produce cellular responses. We developed a novel tool, a highly focused ultrasound microbeam, for non-contact cell stimulation at a microscale. This tool, at 200 MHz, was applied to human umbilical vein endothelial cells to investigate its potential to elicit an elevation in cytoplasmic Ca(2+) levels. It was found that the response was dose dependent, and moreover, extracellular Ca(2+) and cytoplasmic Ca(2+) stores were involved in the Ca(2+) elevation. These results suggest that high-frequency ultrasound microbeam stimulation is potentially a novel non-contact tool for studying cellular mechanotransduction if the acoustic pressures at such high frequencies can be quantified.


Calcium fluorescence imaging; High-frequency ultrasound microbeam; Human umbilical vein endothelial cells; Mechanotransduction

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