Spatial and temporal traction response in human airway smooth muscle cells

Iva Marija Toli-Nørrelykke, James P. Butler, Jianxin Chen, Ning Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tractions that cells exert on their substrates are essential in cell spreading, migration, and contraction. These tractions can be determined by plating the cells on a flexible gel and measuring the deformation of the gel by using fluorescent beads embedded just below the surface of the gel. In this article we describe the image correlation method (ICM) optimized for determining the displacement field of the gel under a contracting cell. For the calculation of the traction field from the displacement field we use the recently developed method of Fourier transform traction cytometry (FTTC). The ICM and FTTC methods are applied to human airway smooth muscle cells during stimulation with the contractile agonist histamine or the relaxing agonist isoproterenol. The overall intensity of the cell contraction (the median traction magnitude, the energy transferred from the cell to the gel, and the net contractile moment) increased after activation with histamine, and decreased after treatment with isoproterenol. Cells exhibited regional differences in the time course of traction during the treatment. Both temporal evolution and magnitude of traction increase induced by histamine varied markedly among different cell protrusions, whereas the nuclear region showed the smallest response. These results suggest that intracellular mediators of cell adhesion and contraction respond to contractile stimuli with different rates and intensities in different regions of the cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1254-C1266
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4 52-4
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion
  • Cell contraction
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Mechanical stress
  • Traction microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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