Dynamic cellular biomechanics in responses to chemotherapeutic drug in hypoxia probed by atomic force spectroscopy
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Lina Alhalhooly1, Babak Mamnoon2, Jiha Kim3,4, Sanku Mallik2 and Yongki Choi1,4,5
1 Department of Physics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108, United States
2 Pharmaceutical Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108, United States
3 Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108, United States
4 Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108, United States
5 Materials and Nanotechnology Program, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota 58108, United States
Keywords: cellular stiffness; roughness; adhesion; drug resistance; hypoxia
Received: January 16, 2021 Accepted: May 14, 2021 Published: June 08, 2021
The changes in cellular structure play an important role in cancer cell development, progression, and metastasis. By exploiting single-cell, force spectroscopy methods, we probed biophysical and biomechanical kinetics (stiffness, morphology, roughness, adhesion) of brain, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer cells with standard chemotherapeutic drugs in normoxia and hypoxia over 12–24 hours. After exposure to the drugs, we found that brain, breast, and pancreatic cancer cells became approximately 55–75% less stiff, while prostate cancer cells became more stiff, due to either drug-induced disruption or reinforcement of cytoskeletal structure. However, the rate of the stiffness change decreased up to 2-folds in hypoxia, suggesting a correlation between cellular stiffness and drug resistance of cancer cells in hypoxic tumor microenvironment. Also, we observed significant changes in the cell body height, surface roughness, and cytoadhesion of cancer cells after exposure to drugs, which followed the trend of stiffness. Our results show that a degree of chemotherapeutic drug effects on biomechanical and biophysical properties of cancer cells is distinguishable in normoxia and hypoxia, which are correlated with alteration of cytoskeletal structure and integrity during drug-induced apoptotic process.
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