Frequency-induced morphology alterations in microconfined biological cells


Low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound has demonstrated an impetus in bone signaling and tissue healing for decades now. Though this technology is clinically well proven, still there are breaches in studies to understand the fundamental principle of how osteoblast tissue regenerates physiologically at the cellular level with ultrasound interaction as a form of acoustic wave stimuli. Through this article, we illustrate an analysis for cytomechanical changes of cell membrane periphery as a basic first physical principle for facilitating late downstream biochemical pathways. With the help of in situ single-cell direct analysis in a microfluidic confinement, we demonstrate that alteration of low-intensity pulse ultrasound (LIPUS) frequency would physically perturb cell membrane and establish inherent cell oscillation. We experimentally demonstrate here that, at LIPUS resonance near 1.7 MHz (during 1–3 MHz alteration), cell membrane area would expand to 6.85 ± 0.7% during ultrasound exposure while it contracts 44.68 ± 0.8% in post actuation. Conversely, cell cross-sectional area change (%) from its previous morphology during and after switching off LIPUS was reversibly different before and after resonance. For instance, at 1.5 MHz, LIPUS exposure produced 1.44 ± 0.5% expansion while in contrast 2 MHz instigates 1.6 ± 0.3% contraction. We conclude that alteration of LIPUS frequency from 1–3 MHz keeping other ultrasound parameters like exposure time, pulse repetition frequency (PRF), etc., constant, if applied to a microconfined biological single living cell, would perturb physical structure reversibly based on the system resonance during and post exposure ultrasound pulsing. We envision, in the near future, our results would constitute the foundation of mechanistic effects of low-intensity therapeutic ultrasound and its allied potential in medical applications.

Frequency Dependent Characterization of Area Strain in Cell Membrane by Microfluidic Based Single Cell Analysis

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All experiments were performed in Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India, under supervision of Professor Tapas Kumar Maiti. We would also like to thank Dr. Dario Carugo, University of Southampton, for helping and guiding to optimize the ultrasound setup for our ultrasound-cell interaction study. For assisting the biological experiments, we would like to extend our sincere acknowledgement to Mr. Joyjyoti Das, Dr. Birendra Behera, and Dr. Nilanjana Bose Chakraborty.

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Correspondence to Hritwick Banerjee or Hongliang Ren.

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Banerjee, H., Roy, B., Chaudhury, K. et al. Frequency-induced morphology alterations in microconfined biological cells. Med Biol Eng Comput 57, 819–835 (2019).

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  • Cellular morphology
  • Microfluidic confinement
  • Ultrasound therapy