Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Mechanics in Medicine and Biology 15:5 (2015) 1550069 (10 pages); doi: 10.1142/S0219519415500694


Copyright © 2015 World Scientific Publishing Company. Used by permission.


Human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cells, with its ability to differentiate into neurons, have been widely used as the in vitro cell culture model for neuroscience research, especially in studying the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and developing therapeutic strategies. Cellular elasticity could potentially serve as a biomarker to quantitatively distinguish undifferentiated and differentiated SH-SY5Y cells. The goal of this work is to characterize the retinoic acid (RA) induced alternations of elastic properties of SH-SY5Y cells using atomic force microscopy (AFM). The elasticity was measured at multiple points of a single cell. Results have shown that the differentiation of SH-SY5Y cell led to a larger elastic modulus, which is three times more than that of undifferentiated cells. A higher indentation rate applied during AFM measurements led to a larger elastic modulus of the cell. This work provides new insights into the differentiation process identified by the elasticity marker, which could be extended to investigate the function, health and ageing of cells.