Dynamic Changes of Acoustic Load and Complex Impedance as Reporters for the Cytotoxicity of Small Molecule Inhibitors
Journal article, 2011

Cellular motility is the major driving force of numerous biological phenomena including wound healing, immune response, embryogenesis, cancer formation, and metastasis. We studied the response of epithelial FaDu monolayers cultured on gold electrodes of an acoustic resonator (quartz crystal microbalance, QCM) and impedance sensor (electric cell-substrate impedance sensing, ECIS) to externally applied chemical stimuli interfering with cytoskeleton organization. Epithelial cell motility of confluent monolayers is characterized by subtle cell shape changes and variations in the cell-substrate as well as cell-cell distance without net directionality of individual cells. The impact of small molecules such as cytochalasin D, phalloidin, and blebbistatin as well as paclitaxel, nocodazol, and colchicin on actin and microtubules organization was quantified by conventional sensors' readouts and by comparing the noise pattern of the signals which is attributed to cellular dynamics. The responsiveness of noninvasive and label-free techniques relying on cellular dynamics is compared to classical viability assays and changes of the overall impedance of ultrasmall electrodes or acoustic loads of a thickness shear mode resonator. Depending on the agent used, a distinct sensor response was found, which can be used as a fingerprint of the cellular response. Cytoskeletal rearrangements and nuclear integrity were corroborated by fluorescence microscopy and correlated to the readouts of QCM and ECIS.


shear mode resonators


actin cytoskeleton

quartz-crystal microbalance




neuronal growth





M. Tarantola

Max Planck Society

E. Sunnick

University of Göttingen

D. Schneider

University of Göttingen

Anna-Kristina Marel

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Angelika Kunze

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Biological Physics

A. Janshoff

University of Göttingen

Chemical Research in Toxicology

0893-228X (ISSN) 1520-5010 (eISSN)

Vol. 24 9 1494-1506

Subject Categories

Chemical Sciences



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