Nanomechanical biomarkers of single circulating tumor cells for detection of castration resistant prostate cancer

Pawel Osmulski, Devalingam Mahalingam, Maria E. Gaczynska, Joseph Liu, Susan Huang, Aaron M. Horning, Chiou Miin Wang, Ian M. Thompson, Tim H M Huang, Chun Liang Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Emerging evidence shows that nanomechanical phenotypes of circulating tumor cells (CTC) could become potential biomarkers for metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). METHODS To determine the nanomechanical phenotypes of CTCs we applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) employing the PeakForce quantitative nanomechanical (QNM) imaging. We assessed biophysical parameters (elasticity, deformation, and adhesion) of 130 CTCs isolated from blood samples from five castration sensitive (CS) and 12 castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPCa) patients. RESULTS We found that CTCs from CRPCa patients are three times softer, three times more deformable, and seven times more adhesive than counterparts from CSPCa patients. Both nonsupervised hierarchical clustering and principle component analysis show that three combined nanomechanical parameters could constitute a valuable set to distinguish between CSPCa and CRPCa. CONLUSIONS Our study indicates that nanomechanical phenotypes of CTCs may serve as novel and effective biomarkers for mCRPC. Prostate 74: 1297-1307, 2014.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1307
Number of pages11
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • adhesion
  • biophysical biomarkers
  • deformability
  • elasticity
  • single-cell analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Nanomechanical biomarkers of single circulating tumor cells for detection of castration resistant prostate cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this