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Why is it so critical to look at cellular biomechanics?

von Réka Enz

A Telight Webinar with Zuzana Nováková

Zuzana Nováková, an accomplished application specialist, delivered a captivating presentation on Quantitative Phase Imaging (QPI), highlighting its techniques, advantages, and applications, as well as the Q-Phase imaging system designed and produced by our partner TELIGHT Co.

QPI offers an excellent method for quantitative visualization of cells without the use of labels, making it particularly suitable for live-cell imaging and (long-term) time-lapse experiments, and a valuable tool for various research fields. Zusana provided valuable insight into mechanobiology, an area of research that holds significant potential for QPI.

Cells subjected to fluid flow, such as vascular endothelial cells, lymphatic endothelial cells, renal endothelial cells, or epithelial-endothelial cells in the lung, experience shear stress that can impact cell morphology and other physiological parameters, including adhesion, proliferation, gene expression, antithrombotic activity, cell differentiation, and material uptake. However, the pathways through which shear stress is transmitted into the cell and translated into biochemical responses are not entirely understood.

Zusana demonstrated how QPI can help fill this knowledge gap by presenting several published papers on mechanobiology that employed QPI. These papers demonstrate the excellent suitability of QPI in microfluidic systems for investigating the effects of shear stress. For instance, Cao et al. used digital holographic microscopy to quantify fluid shear stress-induced strain of osteocytes, and Zeng et al. studied intrathrombus formation under pathophysiological shear stress in microfluidic channels.

Other research groups have used QPI to determine cell mechanical properties such as cell stiffness and compared their data to AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) results, a traditional technique for measuring the mechanical properties of cells. However, unlike AFM, which involves direct contact with the cell surface, QPI presents a non-invasive and contact-free alternative.

All in all, QPI is a powerful tool for cellular biophysics that enables optical quantitative measurements of cell mechanical properties, combined with excellent compatibility with microfluidic systems. Zusana's presentation was undoubtedly illuminating and highly informative.

Watch the whole webinar here!