Yuan Qiu, Chen-Chi Chien, Basile Maroulis, Jiani Bei, Angelo Gaitas PhD, Bin Gong MD, PhD
In this article, a review of a series of applications of atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fluidic Atomic Force Microscopy (fluidic AFM, hereafter fluidFM) in single-cell studies is presented. AFM applications involving single-cell and extracellular vesicle (EV) studies, colloidal force spectroscopy, and single-cell adhesion measurements are discussed. FluidFM is an offshoot of AFM that combines a microfluidic cantilever with AFM and has enabled the research community to conduct biological, pathological, and pharmacological studies on cells at the single-cell level in a liquid environment. In this review, capacities of fluidFM are discussed to illustrate (1) the speed with which sequential measurements of adhesion using coated colloid beads can be done, (2) the ability to assess lateral binding forces of endothelial or epithelial cells in a confluent cell monolayer in an appropriate physiological environment, and (3) the ease of measurement of vertical binding forces of intercellular adhesion between heterogeneous cells. Furthermore, key applications of fluidFM are reviewed regarding to EV absorption, manipulation of a single living cell by intracellular injection, sampling of cellular fluid from a single living cell, patch clamping, and mass measurements of a single living cell.