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We use stroboscopic quantitative phase microscopy to study cell deformation and the response to cavitation bubbles and transient shear stress resulting from laser-induced breakdown of an optically trapped nanoparticle. A bi-directional transient displacement of cytoplasm is observed during expansion and collapse of the cavitation bubble. In some cases, cell deformation is only observable at the microsecond time scale without any permanent change in cell shape or optical thickness. On a time scale of seconds, the cellular response to shear stress and cytoplasm deformation typically leads to retraction of the cellular edge most exposed to the flow, rounding of the cell body and, in some cases, loss of cellular dry mass. These results give a new insight into the cellular response to cavitation induced shear stress and related plasma membrane permeabilization. This study also demonstrates that laser-induced breakdown of a nanoparticle offers localized cavitation, which interacts with a single cell but without causing cell lysis.


Maciej Antkowiak, Yoshihiko Arita, Kishan Dholakia, Frank Gunn-Moore. Imaging the cellular response to transient shear stress using stroboscopic digital holography. Journal of biomedical optics. 2011 Dec;16(12):120508

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PMID: 22191911

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