Higher cell stiffness indicating lower metastatic potential in B16 melanoma cell variants and in (-)-epigallocatechin gallate-treated cells.
ABSTRACT PURPOSE: To understand how nanomechanical stiffness affects metastatic potential, we studied the relationship between cell migration, a characteristic of metastasis, and cell stiffness using atomic force microscopy (AFM), which can measure stiffness (elasticity) of individual living cells. METHODS: Migration and cell stiffness of three metastatic B16 melanoma variants (B16-F10, B16-BL6, and B16-F1 cells), and also effects of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), were studied using Transwell assay and AFM. RESULTS: Migration of B16-F10 and B16-BL6 cells was 3 and 2 times higher than that of B16-F1 cells in Transwell assay, and cell stiffness determined by AFM was also different among the three variants, although they have similar morphologies and the same growth rates: Means of Young's modulus were 350.8 ± 4.8 Pa for B16-F10 cells, 661.9 ± 16.5 Pa for B16-BL6 cells, and 727.2 ± 13.0 Pa for B16-F1 cells. AFM measurements revealed that highly motile B16-F10 cells have low cell stiffness, and low motile and metastatic B16-F1 cells have high cell stiffness: Nanomechanical stiffness is inversely correlated with migration potential. Treatment of highly motile B16-F10 cells with EGCG increased cell stiffness 2-fold and inhibited migration of the cells. CONCLUSIONS: Our study with AFM clearly demonstrates that cell stiffness is a reliable quantitative indicator of migration potential, and very likely metastatic potential, even in morphologically similar cells. And increased cell stiffness may be a key nanomechanical feature in inhibition of metastasis.