X-Message-Number: 25970
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2005 21:34:47 -0700 (PDT)
From: Doug Skrecky <>
Subject: physicists zero in on aging with an atomic force microscope

Physics in Medicine and Biology January 2005  50(1): 81-92
Human epithelial cells increase their rigidity with ageing in
vitro: direct measurements
   Abstract. The decrease in elasticity of epithelial tissues with
ageing contributes to many human diseases. This change was
previously attributed to increased crosslinking of extracellular
matrix proteins. Here we show that individual human epithelial
cells also become significantly more rigid during ageing in vitro.
Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), we found that the Young's
modulus of viable cells was consistently increased two- to
four-fold in older versus younger cells. Direct visualization of
the cytoskeleton using a novel method involving the AFM suggested
that increased rigidity of ageing cells was due to a higher
density of cytoskeletal fibres. Our results identify a unique
mechanism that might contribute to the age-related loss of
elasticity in epithelial tissues.

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