One of the biggest problems of heart failure is the heart's inability to effectively pump blood to meet the body's demands, which may be caused by disease-induced alterations in contraction properties (such as contractile force and Young's modulus). Thus, it is very important to measure contractile properties at single cardiac myocyte level that can lay the foundation for quantitatively understanding the mechanism of heart failure and understanding molecular alterations in diseased heart cells. In this article, we report a novel single cardiac myocyte contractile force measurement technique based on moving a magnetic bead. The measuring system is mainly composed of 1), a high-power inverted microscope with video output and edge detection; and 2), a moving magnetic bead based magnetic force loading module. The main measurement procedures are as follows: 1), record maximal displacement of single cardiac myocyte during contraction; 2), attacha magnetic bead on one end of the myocyte that will move with myocyte during the contraction; 3), repeat step 1 and record contraction processes under different magnitudes of magnetic force loading by adjusting the magnetic field applied on the magnetic bead; and 4), derive the myocyte contractile force base on the maximal displacement of cell contraction and magnetic loading force. The major advantages of this unique approach are: 1), measuring the force without direct connections to the cell specimen (i.e., "remote sensing", a noninvasive/minimally invasive approach); 2), high sensitivity and large dynamic range (force measurement range: from pico Newton to micro Newton); 3), a convenient and cost-effective approach; and 4), more importantly, it can be used to study the contractile properties of heart cells under different levels of external loading forces by adjusting the magnitude of applied magnetic field, which is very important for studying disease induced alterations in contraction properties. Experimental results demonstrated the feasibility of proposed approach.
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