Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.321, No.3, 617-622, 2004
Distending stress of the cytoskeleton is a key determinant of cell rheological behavior
One fundamental question in cell biology is what determines rheological properties of living cells. If the cytoskeletal distending stress is a key determinant of cell rheology, then modulating this stress by cell stretching should have a major effect on cell rheological properties. If not, then other mechanisms must play a major role. We developed a stretchable cell culture device that could rapidly stretch cells and thus generate passive mechanical stress within the cytoskeleton. This device was placed inside a magnetic cytometry system to measure the effect of stretching on rheological properties of cultured human airway smooth muscle cells. A gradual increase in cell distension caused a systematic increase in cell dynamic stiffness in a manner which was consistent with earlier observations where the active component of the distending stress was modulated pharmacologically. These findings provide strong evidence that the cytoskeletal distending stress is a key determinant of cell rheological properties. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.