Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(7):702-706. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6473 This issue

Short Research Communication

Nano-mechanical Compliance of Müller Cells Investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy

Soyeun Park1✉, Yong J. Lee2

1. Department of Physics, Texas Tech University, Box 41051, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA.
2. School of Mechanical Engineering, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea.

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Park S, Lee YJ. Nano-mechanical Compliance of Müller Cells Investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy. Int J Biol Sci 2013; 9(7):702-706. doi:10.7150/ijbs.6473. Available from

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It has been known that a single Müller cell displays a large variation in the cytoskeletal compositions along its cell body, suggesting different mechanical properties in different segments. Müller cells are thought to be involved in many retinal diseases such as retinoschisis, which can be facilitated by a mechanical stress. Thus, mapping of mechanical properties on localized nano-domains of Müller cells could provide essential information for understanding their structural functions in the retina and roles in their pathological progresses. Using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) - based bio-nano-mechanics, we have investigated the local variations of the mechanical properties of Müller cells in vitro. We have a particular interest in identifying elastic moduli in regions closer to three distinctive segments of the cells - process, endfoot, and soma. Using the modified spherical AFM probes, we were able to accurately determine mechanical properties, i.e., elastic moduli from the obtained force-distance curves. We found that the regions closer to soma were mechanically more compliant than regions closer to endfoot and process of Müller cells. We found that this lateral heterogeneity of the mechanical compliance within a single Müller cell is consistent with reports from other cell types. The local variation in mechanical compliances along a single Müller cell may support their diverse mechanical functions in the retina such as a soft mechanical embedding, mechanosensing, and neurotrophic functions for neurons.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, glial cells, nano-indentation, Young's modulus, mechanical compliance.