Dynamic adhesion of T lymphocytes to endothelial cells revealed by atomic force microscopy

Xiaohui Zhang, Ewa P. Wojcikiewicz, Vincent T. Moy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The recruitment of T lymphocytes to lymphoid organs or sites of inflammation is a crucial step in adaptive immunity. These processes require endothelial activation and expression of adhesion molecules, including E- and P-selectins, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). However, the complete characterization of the adhesion strength and dynamics between lymphocytes and endothelial cells has been hampered by the lack of sensitive quantitative techniques. Here we report on the application of atomic force microscopy to characterize the interaction between individual pairs of living T lymphocytes (i.e., Jurkat cells) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The detachment of individual cell-cell conjugates was a complex process involving several step-like rupture events and the viscoelastic deformation of cells on the scale of several microns. Adhesion between Jurkat cells and activated endothelial cells increased with compression force and contact time, with the most dramatic changes occurring within the first half second of contact. After 0.25 sec of contact, E-selectin, ICAM-1, and VCAM-1 contributed to 18%, 39%, and 41% of total adhesion strength, respectively, suggesting that ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 contributed more than the selectins in supporting cell attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1306-1312
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2006


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Cell adhesion
  • T lymphocyte
  • Vascular endothelial cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Dynamic adhesion of T lymphocytes to endothelial cells revealed by atomic force microscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this