Frictional Behavior of Individual Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells Assessed By Lateral Force Microscopy

Materials (Basel). 2010 Sep 1;3(9):4668-4680. doi: 10.3390/ma3094668.


With the advancement of the field of biotribology, considerable interest has arisen in the study of cell and tissue frictional properties. From the perspective of medical device development, the frictional properties between a rigid surface and underlying cells and tissues are of a particular clinical interest. As with many bearing surfaces, it is likely that contact asperities exist at the size scale of single cells and below. Thus, a technique to measure cellular frictional properties directly would be beneficial from both a clinical and a basic science perspective. In the current study, an atomic force microscope (AFM) with a 5 μm diameter borosilicate spherical probe simulating endovascular metallic stent asperities was used to characterize the surface frictional properties of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in contact with a metallic endovascular stent. Various treatments were used to alter cell structure, in order to better understand the cellular components and mechanisms responsible for governing frictional properties. The frictional coefficient of the probe on VSMCs was found to be approximately 0.06. This frictional coefficient was significantly affected by cellular crosslinking and cytoskeletal depolymerization agents. These results demonstrate that AFM-based lateral force microscopy is a valuable technique to assess the friction properties of individual single cells on the micro-scale.