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J Biotechnol. 1993 Nov;31(2):161-77.

A flow cytometric study of hydrodynamic damage to mammalian cells.

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SERC Centre for Biochemical Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.


Flow cytometry has been used to study the mechanisms of damage to mammalian cells by hydrodynamic forces. Cell damage resulted from the stresses created both by bubble entrainment and by bubble bursting caused by vortex formation in highly agitated culture. Damage to the antigen molecules on the cell surface together with increasing leakage and passive transport were observed. Pluronic F-68 reduced the efflux of fluorescein out of cells suggesting the possibility of plugging damaged parts of the membrane or change in membrane molecular organisation. Surface-associated immunoglobulin molecules were also protected by Pluronic F-68. The loss of plasma membrane integrity was followed by the destruction of cytoplasmic matrix. The nuclei were last to be destroyed. The fraction of metabolically active cells was drastically decreased by the intense hydrodynamic forces. However the mitochondrial transmembrane potential, which is linked to the ATP requirements of cells was well as the mean cell size of the live cell population, remained unaffected by the stressful hydrodynamic conditions. F-Actin content peaked during the early exponential phase and declined during the mid and late exponential and death phases of batch culture. The increase of actin during exponential phase was faster in stationary culture than in agitated culture. The increase was associated with the proliferative rate. Furthermore, the response to hydrodynamic forces was not related either to cell size difference or to the stage in the cell cycle.

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