Recent findings clearly demonstrate that cells feel mechanical forces, and respond by altering their phenotype and modulating their mechanical environment. Atomic force microscope (AFM) indentation can be used to mechanically stimulate cells and quantitatively characterize their elastic properties, providing critical information for understanding their mechanobiological behavior. This review focuses on the experimental and computational aspects of AFM indentation in relation to cell biomechanics and pathophysiology. Key aspects of the indentation protocol (including preparation of substrates, selection of indentation parameters, methods for contact point detection, and further post-processing of data) are covered. Historical perspectives on AFM as a mechanical testing tool as well as studies of cell mechanics and physiology are also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Biomechanics
  • Elasticity
  • Elastography
  • Nanoindentation
  • Young’s modulus


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