Locomotive forces produced by single leukocytes in vivo and in vitro

Am J Physiol. 1995 May;268(5 Pt 1):C1308-12. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1995.268.5.C1308.


We report here the first time-resolved measurements of the forces produced during the migration of single leukocytes in vivo and in vitro. Pulmonary macrophages from hamsters and mice, in vitro, and Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium)-anesthetized hamster neutrophils, in vivo, generated maximum locomotive forces ranging from 1.9 to 10.7 nN or tenths of microdynes. Force production was periodic and correlated with the length of the leading lamellipod but not with generalized cell ruffling. Although the extension of the leading lamella is critical to locomotive force generation, these direct measurements suggest that lamellar extension may not arise from the same contractile processes driving forward motion of the cell mass. Indeed, cell ruffling, lamellar extension, and locomotive force generation may be differentially controlled and have different origins. This technique may be extended to test numerous hypotheses of how these and other nonmuscle cells crawl.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Cricetinae
  • Cytochalasin D / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / physiology
  • Magnetics
  • Mesocricetus
  • Mice
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine / pharmacology
  • Oscillometry


  • Actins
  • Cytochalasin D
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine