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A rapid and precise total assessment method for cells

From the outside in: a fast and accurate total assessment method for cells

Accurate overall assessment of the cells with impedance signals. Credit: Tao Tang, Yaxiaer Yalikun

A good eye for detail is an essential skill for many professions. Biologists in particular use special techniques and advanced technology to analyze individual cells with unprecedented precision. Impedance cytometry is an experimental method that can reveal specific features of living single cells. This technique requires electrical penetration, where high-frequency current can pass freely through the cell membrane, without damaging the cell. Now researchers from Japan have determined optimal conditions to perform impedance cytometry. Their work may lead to rapid assessment of cells while culturing in biological experiments.

An improved method for measuring single cell morphology and biomass using impedance cytometry has been introduced in a recently published study in Microsystems and nanoengineering† Impedance cytometry involves applying high-frequency voltages to electrodes to measure complex impedance, which can provide information about the shape and effective volume of the cell. In the study, researchers led by the Nara Institute of Science and Technology used different phases of voltage signals at four frequencies. They showed that applied voltages with frequencies of about 7 MHz can pass through the membrane of Euglena gracilis cells. Higher frequencies can track changes in biomass, while lower frequencies can track changes in volume.

When a high-frequency electric field penetrates the cell membrane, the uneven intracellular distribution tilts the impedance pulses to the left or right, which has been verified in simulation and experiments. “Ultimately, our method of determining cell membrane conductivity relies on the degree of tilt caused by the electrical pulses,” says author Yoichiroh Hosokawa. The team also conducted calibration studies with beads to better understand the underlying physical mechanisms of this effect.

“This research enables the simple determination of the electrical penetration of a cell membrane, and the proposed platform is applicable to multiparameter assessment of the state of the organism during cultivation,” said senior author Yaxiaer Yalikun. This platform can be easily integrated into microfluidic systems for the scalable monitoring of biological experiments.

The need for efficient and highly accurate analysis of living single cells can be met by this novel impedance cytometry method developed by the research team led by the Nara Institute of Science and Technology. Future applications could be extended to mammalian cells to monitor specific membrane changes in areas such as oncogenesis and cell aging.

Examining cell shapes without a microscope

More information:
Tao Tang et al, Assessing the electrical penetration of cell membranes using four-frequency impedance cytometry, Microsystems and nanoengineering (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41378-022-00405-y

Provided by Nara Institute of Science and Technology

Quote: From the Outside In: A Fast and Accurate Total Assessment Method for Cells (2022, June 24) Retrieved June 25, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-rapid-precise-total-method-cells. html

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