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Medicina is published by MDPI from Volume 54 Issue 1 (2018). Articles in this Issue were published by another publisher in Open Access under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-NC-ND) licence. Articles are hosted by MDPI on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Lithuanian Medical Association, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, and Vilnius University.
Open AccessArticle

Atomic Force Microscopy as a Tool for the Investigation of Living Cells

Department of Physical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Vilnius University
Center of Nanotechnology and Materials Science – Nanotechnas, Department of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Vilnius University
Bio-Nanotechnology Laboratory, Department of Material Science and Electrical Engineering, Institute of Semiconductor Physics, State Research Institute Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Lithuania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicina 2013, 49(4), 25;
Received: 17 December 2012 / Accepted: 30 April 2013 / Published: 5 May 2013
Atomic force microscopy is a valuable and useful tool for the imaging and investigation of living cells in their natural environment at high resolution. Procedures applied to living cell preparation before measurements should be adapted individually for different kinds of cells and for the desired measurement technique. Different ways of cell immobilization, such as chemical fixation on the surface, entrapment in the pores of a membrane, or growing them directly on glass cover slips or on plastic substrates, result in the distortion or appearance of artifacts in atomic force microscopy images. Cell fixation allows the multiple use of samples and storage for a prolonged period; it also increases the resolution of imaging. Different atomic force microscopy modes are used for the imaging and analysis of living cells. The contact mode is the best for cell imaging because of high resolution, but it is usually based on the following: (i) image formation at low interaction force, (ii) low scanning speed, and (iii) usage of “soft,” low resolution cantilevers. The tapping mode allows a cell to behave like a very solid material, and destructive shear forces are minimized, but imaging in liquid is difficult. The force spectroscopy mode is used for measuring the mechanical properties of cells; however, obtained results strongly depend on the cell fixation method. In this paper, the application of 3 atomic force microscopy modes including (i) contact, (ii) tapping, and (iii) force spectroscopy for the investigation of cells is described. The possibilities of cell preparation for the measurements, imaging, and determination of mechanical properties of cells are provided. The applicability of atomic force microscopy to diagnostics and other biomedical purposes is discussed.
Keywords: atomic force microscopy; living cells; Young’s modulus; elasticity; cell imaging; cancer cells atomic force microscopy; living cells; Young’s modulus; elasticity; cell imaging; cancer cells
MDPI and ACS Style

Morkvėnaitė-Vilkončienė, I.; Ramanavičienė, A.; Ramanavičius, A. Atomic Force Microscopy as a Tool for the Investigation of Living Cells. Medicina 2013, 49, 25.

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