Quantitative results in cell/tissue mechanics and cell adhesion

The new CellHesion® 200 is an integrated system for measuring cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions. The system can also be used to quantify cell elasticity and cellular response to external mechanical stress or can map tissues. Providing reproducible quantitative results for single cells with precision down to the single-molecule level - the innovative CellHesion® methodology opens up new paths for the study of cellular interactions.

A comprehensive dataset can be measured for a number of important parameters involved in cellular interaction such as Young’s modulus, maximum cell adhesion force, single unbinding events, tether characteristics, and work of removal.

The scheme shows a living cell that is locally probed with a cantilever sensor to measure the mechanical response (indentation) to an external force to quantify cellular elasticity and stiffness.

Cell-cell adhesion operating principle

A single living cell is chemically bound to the cantilever sensor (e.g., through a fibronectin coating) under optical control.

This cell is brought with a defined force into contact with the binding target (molecular layer, implant surface, single cell, confluent monolayer) on the substrate (slide, coverslip or Petri dish).

After a user-defined reaction time the cell on the cantilever is separated from the substrate cell by retracting the cantilever in vertical direction (z-axis) through a piezo actuator.

The cell resists the attempt of removing it from the surface if it adheres to the target. Therefore the cantilever bends noticeably, which is measured by a detector.

Because, in physical terms, a cantilever is a leaf spring, the actual adhesive forces and energies can be derived from the measured bending. This allows the identification of single-molecule binding events that contribute to the adhesion. The experiment is repeated many times with the same cell, with different cells, on different targets and with different conditions to gain statistically relevant information.

Cell-substrate adhesion principle

The result of a single measurement cycle is a force vs. distance curve, which allows to determine single molecule events, the “work of removal” W, tether formation, the maximum adhesion force and viscoelastic parameters.


Made for optical integration

The easy and complete integration of the CellHesion® 200 into inverted research microscopes from leading manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss, Leica, Nikon and Olympus makes it a powerful combination. Techniques such as epifluorescence, confocal microscopy or Superresolution microscopy (STED, STORM/PALM) can be used simultaneously with the CellHesion® system.

Observation of target cells with fluorescence techniques such as TIRF, CLSM, FRAP or Ca2+ imaging parallel to CellHesion® experiments gives insight about the molecular mechanisms involved in adhesion processes or cytoskeleton dynamics. All modes of optical transmission illumination techniques such as DIC or phase contrast can be used simultaneously. This is an important feature when transferring cells to the force sensor (cantilever) or to check the condition of the specimen. Structural information derived by these optical methods can be overlaid with functional data that is determined by force measurements via the DirectOverlay™ software feature, when the CellHesion®200 is used together with the motorized precision stage or the precision mapping stage add-ons.

CellHesion® 200 mounted on Olympus base with incubator




Perfect environment for cells and tissues

CellHesion® 200 is tailor-made for the specialized requirements of working with living cells. The use of standard substrates such as 35mm Petri dishes with or without glass bottom or round coverslips makes cell cultivation and handling easy. Temperature control from 15°C to 60 °C, fluid exchange and ports for CO2 control are integrated in the JPK PetriDishHeater™ or in the JPK BioCell™ designed for coverslips. As an option, the CellHesion® 200 can be integrated in existing incubators (ask for model). All parts of the setup which are in contact with the sample can be sterilized. CellHesion® 200 offers enough vertical-axis travel range to handle large cells and separate even well-adhering cells from their substrates.


Living Xenopus laevis cells. Side view images, showing approach (0:50 min.), contact (1:24 min.) and retract phase (3:50 min.) Piezo height (blue) and force curve (red) showing membrane tethers (arrows). Data courtesy of C. Gonnermann, Dr. D. Stamov and Dr. C. Franz, KIT Germany.

Application examples

  • Stiffness and elasticity mapping from single cells to substrates and tissues
  • Cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions
  • Cell adhesion and tether formation
  • Biomaterial studies, biofouling, biosensors, capsules
  • Implants coatings and cellular biochips
  • Applications in microbiology and virus research
  • Pharmaceutical studies such as drug delivery mechanisms
  • Applications in food, paper or textile industry on fibers, coatings or powders in air or liquid
  • Binding studies such as receptor/ligand or antibody/antigene
  • Testing functionalized surfaces

Key features

  • Innovative platform for cell or tissue mechanics and adhesion experiments
  • Characterization of cell/cell or cell/substrate interaction, cell elasticity, tether formation, adhesion, and cellular response
  • Quantitative measurements from single molecules to entire cells and tissue, organelles and embryos with highest precision
  • Intuitive user interface with ExperimentPlanner™ for perfect workflow
  • Integrates with advanced optical imaging such as DIC, phase contrast, fluorescence, confocal microscopy, Superresolution, TIRF, FRET, FLIM, etc.
  • Widest range of modes and accessories

Click here for the system specifications



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Ch200 Setup 993