Real-time label-free monitoring of adipose-derived stem cell differentiation with electric cell-substrate impedance sensing

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Real-time monitoring of stem cells (SCs) differentiation will be critical to scale-up SC technologies, while label-free techniques will be desirable to quality-control SCs without precluding their therapeutic potential. We cultured adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) on top of multielectrode arrays and measured variations in the complex impedance Z* throughout induction of ADSCs toward osteoblasts and adipocytes. Z* was measured up to 17 d, every 180 s, over a 62.5-64kHz frequency range with an ECIS Z theta instrument. We found that osteogenesis and adipogenesis were characterized by distinct Z* time-courses. Significant differences were found (P = 0.007) as soon as 12 h post induction. An increase in the barrier resistance (Rb) up to 1.7 was associated with early osteo-induction, whereas Rb peaked at 0.63 for adipo-induced cells before falling to zero at t = 129 h. Dissimilarities in Z* throughout early induction (<24 h) were essentially attributed to variations in the cell-substrate parameter a. Four days after induction, cell membrane capacitance (Cm) of osteo-induced cells (Cm = 1.72 +/- 0.10 mu F/cm(2)) was significantly different from that of adipo-induced cells (Cm = 2.25 +/- 0.27 mu F/cm(2)), indicating that Cm could be used as an early marker of differentiation. Finally, we demonstrated long-term monitoring and measured a shift in the complex plane in the middle frequency range (1 kHz to 8 kHz) between early (t = 100 h) and late induction (t = 380 h). This study demonstrated that the osteoblast and adipocyte lineages have distinct dielectric properties and that such differences can be used to perform real-time label-free quantitative monitoring of adult stem cell differentiation with impedance sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6462-6467
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2011


  • noninvasive quantitative monitoring
  • bioimpedance


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