Nanonet force microscopy for measuring forces in single smooth muscle cells of the human aorta
Gleason, Thomas G.
Phillippi, Julie A.
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A number of innovative methods exist to measure cell-matrix adhesive forces, but they have yet to accurately describe and quantify the intricate interplay of a cell and its fibrous extracellular matrix (ECM). In cardiovascular pathologies, such as aortic aneurysm, new knowledge on the involvement of cell-matrix forces could lead to elucidation of disease mechanisms. To better understand this dynamics, we measured primary human aortic single smooth muscle cell (SMC) forces using nanonet force microscopy in both inside-out (I-O intrinsic contractility) and outside-in (O-I external perturbation) modes. For SMC populations, we measured the I-O and O-I forces to be 12.9 +/- 1.0 and 57.9 +/- 2.5 nN, respectively. Exposure of cells to oxidative stress conditions caused a force decrease of 57 and 48% in I-O and O-I modes, respectively, and an increase in migration rate by 2.5-fold. Finally, in O-I mode, we cyclically perturbed cells at constant strain of varying duration to simulate in vivo conditions of the cardiac cycle and found that I-O forces decrease with increasing duration and O-I forces decreased by half at shorter cycle times. Thus our findings highlight the need to study forces exerted and felt by cells simultaneously to comprehensively understand force modulation in cardiovascular disease.