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Biophys J. 1996 Oct;71(4):2158-67.

Physiological monitoring of optically trapped cells: assessing the effects of confinement by 1064-nm laser tweezers using microfluorometry.

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  • 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Irvine 92717, USA.


We report the results of microfluorometric measurements of physiological changes in optically trapped immotile Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHOs) and motile human sperm cells under continuous-wave (CW) and pulsed-mode trapping conditions at 1064 nm. The fluorescence spectra derived from the exogenous fluorescent probes laurdan, acridine orange, propidium iodide, and Snarf are used to assess the effects of optical confinement with respect to temperature, DNA structure, cell viability, and intracellular pH, respectively. In the latter three cases, fluorescence is excited via a two-photon process, using a CW laser trap as the fluorescence excitation source. An average temperature increase of < 0.1 +/- 0.30 degrees C/100 mW is measured for cells when held stationary with CW optical tweezers at powers of up to 400 mW. The same trapping conditions do not appear to alter DNA structure or cellular pH. In contrast, a pulsed 1064-nm laser trap (100-ns pulses at 40 microJ/pulse and average power of 40 mW) produced significant fluorescence spectral alterations in acridine orange, perhaps because of thermally induced DNA structural changes or laser-induced multiphoton processes. The techniques and results presented herein demonstrate the ability to perform in situ monitoring of cellular physiology during CW and pulsed laser trapping, and should prove useful in studying mechanisms by which optical tweezers and microbeams perturb metabolic function and cellular viability.

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