Cell Surface Vibrations Distinguish Malignant from Benign Cells

Ishay Wohl, Julia Sajman, Eilon Sherman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanical properties of living cells, including their shape, rigidity, and internal dynamics play a crucial role in their physiology and pathology. Still, the relations between the physiological cell state and its rigidity and surface vibrations remain poorly understood. Here, we have employed AFM measurements on T cells and found a negative relation between cell surface stiffness and its vibrations. Blocking T-type Ca++-channels using Mibefradil reduced cortical actin tension in these cells and enhanced their membrane vibrations and dissipation of intracellular mechanical work to the cell surroundings. We also found increased vibrations of cell membranes in five different malignant cells lines derived from T cell leukemia, lung, prostate, bladder, and melanoma cancers, as compared to their corresponding benign cells. This was demonstrated by utilizing TIRF microscopy in single cells and dynamic laser speckles measurements in an in vitro model of multiple cells in a tissue. Our results show that cell membrane vibrations and dissipation of mechanical work are higher in malignant cells relative to benign cells. Accordingly, these properties may be used to detect and monitor cellular and tissue malignancies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1901
Issue number14
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • dissipation
  • malignancy
  • mechanical work
  • stiffness
  • vibrations


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