Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Eckmann Lab

Understanding Cell Health by Probing Mechanical Behaviors


The interdependence of cell elasticity and cytoskeletal components is a critical step toward understanding the mechanics of living tissue.  Cellular responses and their microarchitecture react and adapt to their environment and disease state.  Changes in cell elasticity have been implicated in the pathogenesis of many human diseases including vascular disorders, malaria, sickle cell anemia, arthritis, asthma, and cancer. Therefore, there is a practical need to measure cell mechanics quantitatively to understand how diseased cells differ from healthy ones.  In particular, investigating the mechanical properties of cancer cells may help to better understand the physical mechanisms responsible for cancer metastasis. We use Atomic Force Microscopy to evaluate the mechanical properties of healthy, stressed, and deranged cells to correlate biophysical responses with changes in mechanical properties.