Atomic force microscopy analysis of cell volume regulation

Chiara Spagnoli, Arthur Beyder, Stephen Besch, Frederick Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Cells swell in response a hypoosmotic challenge. By converting osmotic pressure to hydrostatic pressure at the cell membrane via van't Hoff's law, and converting that to tension via Laplace's law one predicts that the cell membrane should stretch and become stiff. We tested this prediction using the atomic force microscopy. During osmotic swelling cells did not become stiff and generally became softer. This result contradicts the assumption of the cell membrane as the constraining element in osmotic stress but is consistent with the cytoskeleton acting as a cross-linked gel. Models of the cells' response to osmotic stress must include energy terms for three-dimensional stresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031916
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 22 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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