A rapid and accurate global cell assessment method — ScienceDaily

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Attention to detail is an essential skill for many professions. In particular, biologists use special techniques and advanced technology to analyze individual cells with unprecedented precision. Impedance cytometry is an experimental method that can reveal specific characteristics of living single cells. This technique requires electrical penetration, in which a high-frequency current can freely pass through the cell membrane, without damaging the cell. Now, Japanese researchers have determined the optimal conditions for performing impedance cytometry. Their work can lead to rapid assessment of cells during culture in biological experiments.

An improved method for measuring the morphology and biomass of single cells using impedance cytometry has been introduced in a study recently published in Microsystems & 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 four-frequency voltage signals. They showed that applied voltages with frequencies around 7 MHz are able to cross the membrane of Euglena gracilis cells. Higher frequencies can monitor 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 left or right, which has been verified in simulation and experiments. “Ultimately, our method for determining cell membrane conductivity relies on the degree of tilt caused by the electrical pulses,” says author Yoichiroh Hosokawa. The team also performed calibration studies using beads to better understand the physical mechanisms underlying this effect.

“This research makes it easy to determine the electrical penetration of a cell membrane, and the proposed platform is applicable to the multiparameter assessment of the state of the organism during culture,” explains lead author Yaxiaer Yalikun. This platform can be easily integrated into microfluidic systems for the evolutionary 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 cellular aging.

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Material provided by Nara Institute of Science and Technology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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