Cellular cholesterol regulates monocyte deformation

Amit K. Saha, Shatha F. Dallo, Ariana L. Detmar, Pawel Osmulski, Maria Gaczynska, Tim Hui Ming Huang, Anand K. Ramasubramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The role of cholesterol content on monocyte biomechanics remains understudied despite the well-established link between cholesterol and monocytes/macrophages in atherosclerosis, and the effect on other cell types. In this work, we have investigated the effect of cholesterol on monocyte deformability and the underlying molecular mechanisms. We altered the baseline cholesterol in human monocytic cell line THP-1, and investigated the changes in monocyte deformability using a custom microfluidic platform and atomic force microscopy. We observed that the cholesterol depletion lowered deformability while enrichment increased deformability compared to untreated cells. As a consequence of altered deformability, cholesterol depleted cells spread more on collagen-coated surfaces with elongated morphology, whereas cholesterol enriched cells had a more rounded morphology. We observed that the decreased deformability in cholesterol depleted cells, despite an increase in the fluidity of the membrane, is due to an increase in phosphorylation of Protein Kinase C (PKC), which translates to a higher degree of actin polymerization. Together, our results highlight the importance of biophysical regulation of monocyte response to cholesterol levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cell deformability
  • Cell stiffness
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Membrane fluidity
  • Microfluidics
  • Spreading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Cellular cholesterol regulates monocyte deformation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this