Accurate measurements of nuclear deformation, i.e., structural changes of the nucleus in response to environmental stimuli, are important for signal transduction studies. Traditionally, these measurements require labeling and imaging, and then nuclear measurement using image analysis. This approach is time-consuming, invasive, and unavoidably perturbs cellular systems. Light scattering, an emerging biophotonics technique for probing physical characteristics of living systems, offers a promising alternative. Angle-resolved low-coherence interferometry (a/LCI), a novel light scattering technique, was developed to quantify nuclear morphology for early cancer detection. In this study, a/LCI is used for the first time to noninvasively measure small changes in nuclear morphology in response to environmental stimuli. With this new application, we broaden the potential uses of a/LCI by demonstrating high-throughput measurements and by probing aspherical nuclei. To demonstrate the versatility of this approach, two distinct models relevant to current investigations in cell and tissue engineering research are used. Structural changes in cell nuclei due to subtle environmental stimuli, including substrate topography and osmotic pressure, are profiled rapidly without disrupting the cells or introducing artifacts associated with traditional measurements. Accuracy ≥ 3% is obtained for the range of nuclear geometries examined here, with the greatest deviations occurring for the more complex geometries. Given the high-throughput nature of the measurements, this deviation may be acceptable for many biological applications that seek to establish connections between morphology and function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4948-4956
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2008


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