Reversible Changes in Cell Morphology due to Cytoskeletal Rearrangements Measured in Real-Time by QCM-D
Journal article, 2012

The mechanical properties and responses of cells to external stimuli (including drugs) are closely connected to important phenomena such as cell spreading, motility, activity, and potentially even differentiation. Here, reversible changes in the viscoelastic properties of surface-attached fibroblasts were induced by the cytoskeleton-perturbing agent cytochalasin D, and studied in realtime by the quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) technique. QCM-D is a surface sensitive technique that measures changes in (dynamically coupled) mass and viscoelastic properties close to the sensor surface, within a distance into the cell that is usually only a fraction of its size. In this work, QCM-D was combined with light microscopy to study in situ cell attachment and spreading. Overtone-dependent changes of the QCM-D responses (frequency and dissipation shifts) were first recorded, as fibroblast cells attached to protein-coated sensors in a window equipped flow module. Then, as the cell layer had stabilised, morphological changes were induced in the cells by injecting cytochalasin D. This caused changes in the QCM-D signals that were reversible in the sense that they disappeared upon removal of cytochalasin D. These results are compared to other cell QCM-D studies. Our results stress the combination of QCM-D and light microscopy to help interpret QCM-D results obtained in cell assays and thus suggests a direction to develop the QCM-D technique as an even more useful tool for real-time cell studies.


quartz-crystal microbalance

supported lipid-bilayers










Nina Tymchenko

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Biological Physics

Erik Nilebäck

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Biological Physics

Marina Voinova

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Electronics Material and Systems

Julie Gold

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Biological Physics

Bengt Herbert Kasemo

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Chemical Physics

Sofia Svedhem

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Biological Physics


19348630 (ISSN) 15594106 (eISSN)

Vol. 7 1-4 43-9 43

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry



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4/6/2022 5