National Natural Science Foundation of China [61175103, 61375107, 61327014, 61433017]
; Research Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Robotics [2014-Z07]
; CAS FEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams
Cell mechanics plays an important role in cellular physiological activities. Recent studies have shown that cellular mechanical properties are novel biomarkers for indicating the cell states. In this article, temperature-controllable atomic force microscopy (AFM) was applied to quantitatively investigate the effects of temperature and cellular interactions on the mechanics and morphology of human cancer cells. First, AFM indenting experiments were performed on six types of human cells to investigate the changes of cellular Young's modulus at different temperatures and the results showed that the mechanical responses to the changes of temperature were variable for different types of cancer cells. Second, AFM imaging experiments were performed to observe the morphological changes in living cells at different temperatures and the results showed the significant changes of cell morphology caused by the alterations of temperature. Finally, by co-culturing human cancer cells with human immune cells, the mechanical and morphological changes in cancer cells were investigated. The results showed that the co-culture of cancer cells and immune cells could cause the distinct mechanical changes in cancer cells, but no significant morphological differences were observed. The experimental results improved our understanding of the effects of temperature and cellular interactions on the mechanics and morphology of cancer cells.