The structure of human fibroblasts has been characterised in vitro by atomic force microscopy (AFM) operated in the imaging or in the force vs. distance (F-d) modes. The choice of growth substrate is important to ensure good adhesion. The substrate also affects the imaging conditions for in vitro analysis of live cells; activated tissue culture dishes are shown to promote conditions that routinely result in good quality images. A qualitative model suggests that the activated substrate may act as a preferential scavenger of cellular debris, therefore promoting low adhesion between tip and membrane and preventing the tip from biofouling. Alternatively, the activated substrate may promote a more rigid cell structure, thus resulting in improved imaging. Good imaging conditions provide nondestructive in vitro information about cytoskeletal structure and dynamics; thus, treatment with cytochalasin can be monitored in real time for durations of several hours.
- Atomic force microscopy
- Force-distance analysis
- Human fibroblasts
- Image formation
- Surface mechanical properties