Measuring intracellular viscosity in conditions of hypergravity

E.M. Woodcock, P. Girvan, J. Eckert, I. Lopez-Duarte, M. Kubánková, J.J.W.A. van Loon, N.J. Brooks, M.K. Kuimova

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gravity-sensitive cellular responses are regularly observed in both specialized and nonspecialized cells. One potential mechanism for this sensitivity is a changing viscosity of the intracellular organelles. Here, we report a novel, to our knowledge, viscosity-sensitive molecular rotor based on mesosubstituted boron-dipyrrin used to investigate the response of viscosity of cellular membranes to hypergravity conditions created at the large diameter centrifuge at the European Space Agency Technology Centre. Mouse osteoblastic (MC3T3-E1) and endothelial (human umbilical vein endothelial cell) cell lines were tested, and an increase in viscosity was found with increasing hypergravity loading. This response is thought to be primarily biologically driven, with the potential for a small, instantaneous physical mechanism also contributing to the observed effect. This work provides the first, to our knowledge, quantitative data for cellular viscosity changes under hypergravity, up to 15 × g.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1984-1993
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2019


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