Infection by Plasmodium changes shape and stiffness of hepatic cells

P. Eaton, V. Zuzarte-Luis, M. M. Mota, N. C. Santos, M. PrudĂȘncio, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, 8(1) (2012).
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Abstract Infection of liver cells by Plasmodium, the malaria parasite, is a clinically silent, obligatory step of the parasite's life cycle. The authors studied the progression of Plasmodium infection in hepatic cells by atomic force microscopy, measuring both topographical and nanomechanical changes upon infection. In recent years, several studies have suggested that cellular nanomechanical properties can be correlated with disease progression. The authors' results show that infected cells exhibit considerable topographical changes, which can be correlated with the presence of the parasite, leading to a significant roughening of the cell membrane. The nanomechanical measurements showed that infected cells were significantly stiffer than noninfected cells. Furthermore, the stiffening of the cells appeared to be a cellular reaction to the Plasmodium infection, rather than a result of the stiffness of the invading parasites themselves. This article provides the first evidence of mechanical changes occurring in hepatic cells in response to Plasmodium infection.

Graphical Abstract

Atomic force microscopy scanning of liver cells (shown top left) infected with malaria (transmitted by Anopheles bottom left), shows topographical changes (shown right), as well as nanomechanical differences in comparison with uninfected cells.
There is also a local copy for download here: eaton_etal_malaria_nanomedicineNBM_reviewed.pdf

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