Validation, in-depth analysis, and modification of the micropipette aspiration technique

Yong Chen, Baoyu Liu, Gang Xu, Jin Yu Shao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The micropipette aspiration technique (MAT) has been successfully applied to many studies in cell adhesion such as leukocyte-endothelium interactions. However, this technique has never been validated experimentally and it has been only employed to impose constant forces. In this study, we validated the force measurement of the MAT with the optical trap and analyzed two technical issues of the MAT, force-transducer offset and cell-micropipette gap, with finite element simulation. We also modified the MAT so that increasing or decreasing forces can be applied. With the modified MAT, we studied tether extraction from endothelial cells by pulling single tethers at increasing velocities and constant force loading rates. Before the onset of tether extraction, an apparently linear surface protrusion of a few hundred nanometers was observed, which is likely related to membrane receptors pulling on the underlying cytoskeleton. The strength of the modified MAT lies in its capability and consistency to apply a wide range of force loading rates from several piconewtons per second up to thousands of piconewtons per second. With this modification, the MAT becomes more versatile in the study of single molecule and single cell biophysics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-365
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Bioengineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Cell adhesion
  • Cellular mechanics
  • Finite element analysis
  • Molecular biomechanics
  • Optical trap
  • Tether extraction


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