Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty Publications

Development of a Method for Imaging Erythrocytes Using Atomic Force Microscope

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Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development





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Statement of Purpose, Innovation or Hypothesis: Imaging living or fixed cells in their natural environment has been the focus of nano-biotechnology research involving Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Because of its superior sensitivity in measuring molecular forces with accuracy, the AFM has emerged as a powerful tool for investigating structure to function related properties of cells. These studies require specific sample preparation techniques that allow the AFM tip to scan the surface topography of a cell. Given the complexities of preparing the sample under optimal conditions, the current study investigated a method for imaging erythrocytes in their native state using AFM.

Description of Methods and Materials: For this purpose, blood from healthy human volunteer is collected with sodium citrate and stored at -20 degree Centigrade until used. Erythrocytes are separated by centrifuging at 13200 rpm for 14 minutes at 4 degree Centigrade. Then they are washed with normal saline and plated on a clean glass slide and allowed to stabilize at room temperature. A NanoScience EasyScan Flex AFM system with a scan head for liquid measurements is used for imaging these erythrocytes.

Data and Results: On the glass slide, a total of 50 µm, 20 µm and 10 µm area were scanned and the images of erythrocytes were captured at different resolutions. These images will be presented that were nei-ther deformed nor ruptured due to the interactions between AFM tip and erythrocytes.

Interpretation, Conclusion or Significance: As the erythrocyte membrane is unique in its biconcave shape that is retained by its cyto-skeleton, high resolution images by AFM may play an important role in clinical differential diagnosis as well as understanding the interactions between cytoskeleton and cell membranes.


Erythrocytes, atomic force microscope


Abstracts from the 2012 American College of Clinical Pharmacology Annual Meeting