Nanoparticle induced cell magneto-rotation: Monitoring morphology, stress and drug sensitivity of a suspended single cancer cell

Remy Elbez, Brandon H. McNaughton, Lalit Patel, Kenneth J. Pienta, Raoul Kopelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Single cell analysis has allowed critical discoveries in drug testing, immunobiology and stem cell research. In addition, a change from two to three dimensional growth conditions radically affects cell behavior. This already resulted in new observations on gene expression and communication networks and in better predictions of cell responses to their environment. However, it is still difficult to study the size and shape of single cells that are freely suspended, where morphological changes are highly significant. Described here is a new method for quantitative real time monitoring of cell size and morphology, on single live suspended cancer cells, unconfined in three dimensions. The precision is comparable to that of the best optical microscopes, but, in contrast, there is no need for confining the cell to the imaging plane. The here first introduced cell magnetorotation (CM) method is made possible by nanoparticle induced cell magnetization. By using a rotating magnetic field, the magnetically labeled cell is actively rotated, and the rotational period is measured in real-time. A change in morphology induces a change in the rotational period of the suspended cell (e.g. when the cell gets bigger it rotates slower). The ability to monitor, in real time, cell swelling or death, at the single cell level, is demonstrated. This method could thus be used for multiplexed real time single cell morphology analysis, with implications for drug testing, drug discovery, genomics and three-dimensional culturing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere28475
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 13 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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