Viscoelastic properties of differentiating blood cells are fate- and function-dependent.

Andrew E Ekpenyong, Graeme Whyte, Kevin Chalut, Stefano Pagliara, Franziska Lautenschläger, Christine Fiddler, Stephan Paschke, Ulrich F Keyser, Edwin R Chilvers, Jochen Guck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)
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Although cellular mechanical properties are known to alter during stem cell differentiation, understanding of the functional relevance of such alterations is incomplete. Here, we show that during the course of differentiation of human myeloid precursor cells into three different lineages, the cells alter their viscoelastic properties, measured using an optical stretcher, to suit their ultimate fate and function. Myeloid cells circulating in blood have to be advected through constrictions in blood vessels, engendering the need for compliance at short time-scales (minutes), compared to undifferentiated cells. These findings suggest that reduction in steady-state viscosity is a physiological adaptation for enhanced migration through tissues. Our results indicate that the material properties of cells define their function, can be used as a cell differentiation marker and could serve as target for novel therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e45237-e45237
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Adaptation
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Blood Cells
  • Blood Cells: physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Macrophages
  • Macrophages: physiology
  • Microfluidics
  • Monocytes
  • Monocytes: physiology
  • Myeloid Cells
  • Myeloid Cells: physiology
  • Neutrophils
  • Neutrophils: physiology
  • Physiological
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Viscosity


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