4D Force Detection of Cell Adhesion and Contractility

Nafsika Chala, Xinyu Zhang, Tomaso Zambelli, Ziyi Zhang, Teseo Schneider, Daniele Panozzo, Dimos Poulikakos, Aldo Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanical signals establish two-way communication between mammalian cells and their environment. Cells contacting a surface exert forces via contractility and transmit them at the areas of focal adhesions. External stimuli, such as compressive and pulling forces, typically affect the adhesion-free cell surface. Here, we demonstrate the collaborative employment of Fluidic Force Microscopy and confocal Traction Force Microscopy supported by the Cellogram solver to enable a powerful integrated force probing approach, where controlled vertical forces are applied to the free surface of individual cells, while the concomitant deformations are used to map their transmission to the substrate. Force transmission across human cells is measured with unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution, enabling the investigation of the cellular mechanisms involved in the adaptation, or maladaptation, to external mechanical stimuli. Altogether, the system enables facile and precise force interrogation of individual cells, with the capacity to perform population-based analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2467-2475
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 12 2023


  • FluidFM
  • actomyosin contractility
  • cell compression
  • single-cell force spectroscopy
  • traction force microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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