We use a quantitative phase imaging technique, defocusing microscopy (DM), to measure morphological, chemical, and mechanical parameters of individual red blood cells (RBCs) immersed in solutions with different osmolalities. We monitor the RBCs’ radius, volume, surface area, sphericity index, and hemoglobin content and concentration. The complete shape of cells is recovered and the effects of their adhesion to the glass substrate are observed. Finally, membrane fluctuation measurements give us information about the cells deformability.
We present a real-time method to measure the amplitude of thermal fluctuations in biological membranes by means of a new treatment of the defocusing microscopy (DM) optical technique. This approach was also applied to study the deformation of human erythrocytes to its echinocyte structure. This was carried out by making three-dimensional shape reconstructions of the cell and measuring the thermal fluctuations of its membrane, as the cell is exposed to the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen and as it recovers its original shape, when it is subsequently cleansed of the drug. The results showed biomechanical changes in the membrane even at low naproxen concentration (0.2 mM). Also, we found that when the cell recovered its original shape, the membrane properties were different compared to the nondrugged initial erythrocyte, indicating that the drug administration-recovery process is not completely reversible.
We measure the entropic elasticity of a single λ-DNA molecule and of a single DNA-Psoralen complex by doing stretching experiments with an optical tweezers. Psoralen is a photosensitive drug used in the treatment of many skin diseases, by impeding DNA replication. Psolaren intercalates the DNA and can form crosslinks with pyrimidine basis in opposite strands of DNA, when illuminated with UVA light. As crosslinks form the persistence length of the complex increases, indicating an increase in rigidity of the complex. We study the kinetics of DNA-Psoralen crosslink formation via changes in entropic elasticity of the complex.