Single-Cell Acoustic Force Spectroscopy: Resolving Kinetics and Strength of T Cell Adhesion to Fibronectin

Douwe Kamsma, Pascal Bochet, Felix Oswald, Nander Alblas, Sophie Goyard, Gijs J.L. Wuite*, Erwin J.G. Peterman, Thierry Rose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Assessing the strength and kinetics of molecular interactions of cells with the extracellular matrix is fundamental to understand cell adhesion processes. Given the relevance of these processes, there is a strong need for physical methods to quantitatively assess the mechanism of cell adhesion at the single-cell level, allowing discrimination of cells with different behaviors. Here we introduce single-cell acoustic force spectroscopy (scAFS), an approach that makes use of acoustic waves to exert controlled forces, up to 1 nN, to hundreds of individual cells in parallel. We demonstrate the potential of scAFS by measuring adhesion forces and kinetics of CD4+ T lymphocytes (CD4) to fibronectin. We determined that CD4 adhesion is accelerated by interleukin-7, their main regulatory cytokine, whereas CD4 binding strength remains the same. Activation of these cells likely increases their chance to bind to the vessel wall in the blood flow to infiltrate inflamed tissues and locally coordinate the immune response. Kamsma et al. introduce single-cell acoustic force spectroscopy (scAFS), an approach using acoustic waves to exert controlled forces to hundreds of individual cells in parallel in order to measure their adhesion forces and kinetics to targets in living conditions, opening up a wide range of potential applications in research and the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3008-3016
Number of pages9
JournalCell Reports
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2018


We thank Andrea Candelli (LUMICKS) for helpful discussions and Jenneke Klein Nuland (ACTA-VU Amsterdam) for providing lab facilities needed for cell culture. This work is part of the research program of Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) ‘Chromavision’ (grant number 665233 , E.J.G.P. and G.J.L.W.), which is part of the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 program and supported by Institut Pasteur (Paris, France) through its Transversal Research Program (PTR 424) and equipment funding (Center for Innovation and Technological Research) and by the Pasteur-Weizmann Foundation .

FundersFunder number
Center for Innovation and Technological Research
Pasteur-Weizmann Foundation
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
H2020 Future and Emerging Technologies665233
European Commission
Institut PasteurPTR 424


    • acoustic force spectroscopy
    • adhesion kinetics
    • adhesion strength
    • CD4
    • extracellular matrix
    • fibronectin
    • integrin
    • mechanobiology
    • rupture force
    • T lymphocytes


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