Simple Physical Model Unravels Influences of Chemokine on Shape Deformation and Migration of Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 13;8(1):10630. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28750-x.


We studied the dynamic behavior of human hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) on the in vitro model of bone marrow surfaces in the absence and presence of chemokine (SDF1α). The deformation and migration of cells were investigated by varying the chemokine concentration and surface density of ligand molecules. Since HSC used in this study were primary cells extracted from the human umbilical cord blood, it is not possible to introduce molecular reporter systems before or during the live cell imaging. To account for the experimental observations, we propose a simple and general theoretical model for cell crawling. In contrast to other theoretical models reported previously, our model focuses on the nonlinear coupling between shape deformation and translational motion and is free from any molecular-level process. Therefore, it is ideally suited for the comparison with our experimental results. We have demonstrated that the results in the absence of SDF1α were well recapitulated by the linear model, while the nonlinear model is necessary to reproduce the elongated migration observed in the presence of SDF1α. The combination of the simple theoretical model and the label-free, live cell observations of human primary cells opens a large potential to numerically identify the differential effects of extrinsic factors such as chemokines, growth factors, and clinical drugs on dynamic phenotypes of primary cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Shape / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / metabolism*
  • Culture Media / metabolism
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Primary Cell Culture


  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Culture Media