Selective induction of targeted cell death and elimination by near-infrared femtosecond laser ablation

Biochem Biophys Rep. 2020 Oct 6;24:100818. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2020.100818. eCollection 2020 Dec.


The techniques for inducing the death of specific cells in tissue has attracted attention as new methodologies for studying cell function and tissue regeneration. In this study, we show that a sequential process of targeted cell death and removal can be triggered by short-term exposure of near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses. Kinetic analysis of the intracellular accumulation of trypan blue and the assay of caspase activity revealed that femtosecond laser pulses induced immediate disturbance of plasma membrane integrity followed by apoptosis-like cell death. Yet, adjacent cells showed no sign of membrane damage and no increased caspase activity. The laser-exposed cells eventually detached from the substrate after a delay of >54 min while adjacent cells remained intact. On the base of in vitro experiments, we applied the same approach to ablate targeted single cardiac cells of a live zebrafish heart. The ability of inducing targeted cell death with femtosecond laser pulses should find broad applications that benefit from precise cellular manipulation at the level of single cells in vivo and in vitro.

Keywords: Ablation; Cell adhesion; Cell death; Femtosecond laser; Photo-apoptosis.