Monitoring Changes in Cell Viscoelasticity by Quartz Crystal Microbalance

Andrea Alessandrini1, M.A. Croce2, C. Paolinelli Devincenzi2, R. Tiozzo2, and Paolo Facci1

1INFM Natl. Center - S3, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 213A, I-41100 Modena, Italy, and
2Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione di Patologia generale, Modena, Italy




Many cell biological processes, including different phases in normal cell cycle, involve changes in the viscoelastic properties of cells. Moreover, these properties can be affected by several drugs. The Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM) enables to assess in a non-invasive way the viscoelasticity changes of cells interacting with one of its electrodes.

Here we demonstrate that we can correlate the frequency signal from the QCM with the viscoelasticity variations related to a proliferating 3T3 fibroblast population. Frequency oscillations with a periodicity corresponding to the typical cell cycle period are observed for a proliferating synchronized cell population. This opportunity paves the way to the realization of a cells/QCM based biosensor for detecting drugs affecting the cell cycle. Preliminary results on the possibility of detecting the presence in solution of colchicine, a drug which acts as a mitotic inhibitor, are presented.