Intracellular particle tracking as a tool for tumor cell characterization

Y. Li, Michael H.G. Duits, Jürgen Schnekenburger

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We studied the dynamics of two types of intracellular probe particles, ballistically injected latex spheres and endogenous granules, in tumor cell lines of differerent metastatic potential: breast tumor cells (MCF-7 malignant, MCF-10A benign) and pancreas adenocarcinoma (PaTu8988T malignant, PaTu8988S benign). For both tissue types and for both probes, the mean squared displacement (MSD) function measured in the malignant cells was substantially larger than in the benign cells. Only a few cells were needed to characterize the tissue as malignant or benign based on their MSD, since variations in MSD within the same cell line were relatively small. These findings suggest that intracellular particle tracking (IPT) can serve as a simple and reliable method for characterization of cell states obtained from a small amount of cell sample. Mechanical analysis of the same cell lines with atomic force microscopy (AFM) in force-distance mode revealed that AFM could distinguish between the benign and malignant breast cancer cells but not the pancreatic tumor cell lines. This underlines the potential value of IPT as a complementary nanomechanical tool for studying cell-state-dependent mechanical properties
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)064005-
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • IR-77734
  • Atomic Force Microscopy
  • intracellular particle tracking
  • cancer cells
  • cytoskeleton mechanics
  • ballistic intracellular nanorheology
  • METIS-262015

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