LCN researchers at King’s College have devised a new method to measure the stiffness of soft culture surfaces & 3D hydrogels using atomic force microscopy (AFM) force spectroscopy carrying out much of the work at the LCN in Bloomsbury. The research 'Measuring the elastic modulus of soft culture surfaces and three-dimensional hydrogels using atomic force microscopy', was recently published in Nature Protocols, has been summed up by PI Dr Eileen Gentleman on her lab twitter account.
3D hydrogels suitable for cell encapsulation and soft 2D surfaces are increasingly used to explore mechanically mediated biological phenomena. 2/12 pic.twitter.com/ePavACv8D4— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021
The impact of stiffness has been extended into 3D. Work with hydrogels has linked stiffness to stem cell fate specification, and has also revealed how cells remodel their surroundings by secreting & arranging proteins pericellularly. 4/12https://t.co/xlU8v5vlZs— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021
Indeed, even the Young's modulus of synthetic materials formed using the same method can differ by orders of magnitude when tested using different methods. (I’m looking at you PDMS 👀) 6/12— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021
We’ve optimised the method to make it accessible to biology labs and those without a background in mechanics. We’ve provided every step from turning on the instrument to analysing the data so even those with only introductory training in AFM can perform measurements. 8/12— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021
Using this approach, we were able to quantify fibrosis-like changes in the mesenchyme surrounding hiPSC-derived intestinal organoids. We even provide instructions to make nifty stiffness maps, like those we reported in @NatureMaterials : 10/12https://t.co/9vMyvpWUCh— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021
To get an insight into what it's like to work on the AFM, read the ‘Behind the Paper’ blog by @Michael_Norman3 & @GeraldineJowett that talks a bit more about where the protocol came from and the joy/pain of performing AFM in liquid on hydrogels. (12/12)https://t.co/T6gfy7sqKF— Eileen Gentleman Lab (@GentlemanLab) April 15, 2021