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Exp Cell Res. 1997 Apr 10;232(1):106-17.

An in vitro force measurement assay to study the early mechanical interaction between corneal fibroblasts and collagen matrix.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9057, USA.


An in vitro force measurement assay has been developed to quantify the forces exerted by single corneal fibroblasts during the early interaction with a collagen matrix. Corneal fibroblasts were sparsely seeded on top of collagen matrices whose stiffness was predetermined by micromanipulation with calibrated fine glass microneedles. The forces exerted by individual cells were calculated from time-lapse videomicroscopic recordings of the 2-D elastic distortion of the matrix. In additional experiments, the degree of permanent reorganization of the collagen matrices was assessed by lysing the cells with 1% Triton X-100 solution at the end of a 2-hour incubation and recording the subsequent relaxation. The data suggest that a cell can exert comparable centripetal force during either extension of a cell process or partial retraction of an extended pseudopodia. The rates of force associated with pseudopodial extension and partial retraction were 0.180 +/- 0.091 (x 10(-8)) N/min (n = 8 experiments) and 0.213 +/- 0.063 (x 10(-8)) N/min (n = 8 experiments), respectively. Rupture of pseudopodial adhesion associated with cell locomotion causes a release of force on the matrix and a complete recoil of the pseudopodia concerned; a simultaneous release of force on the matrix was also observed at the opposite end of the cell. Lysis of cells resulted in 84 +/- 18% relaxation of the matrix, suggesting that little permanent remodeling of matrix is produced by the actions of isolated migrating cells.

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