Adhesion contact dynamics of HepG2 cells on galactose-immobilized substrates

Chao Yin, Kin Liao, Hai Quan Mao, Kam W. Leong, Ren Xi Zhuo, Vincent Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The specific recognition between asialoglycoprotein receptor and galactose ligand at cell-substrate interfaces has been shown to mediate hepatocyte adhesion and maintain liver specific functions of hepatocytes. Conventionally, the success of hepatocyte attachment on engineered tissue scaffold is inferred from the degree of two-dimensional cell spreading that is measured by transmitted light microscopy. However, the actual contact mechanics and adhesion strength of hepatocytes during two-dimensional cell spreading has not been elucidated due to lack of biophysical probe. In this study, a novel biophysical technique known as confocal reflectance interference contrast microscopy (C-RICM) in conjunction with phase contrast microscopy is utilized to probe the adhesion dynamics, contact mechanics and two-dimensional spreading kinetics of HepG2 cells on galactose immobilized and collagen gel coated substrates. C-RICM demonstrates that HepG2 cells form strong adhesion contacts with both galactose-immobilized surfaces and collagen gel coated substrates. Moreover, HepG2 cells maintain their compact shapes in the presence of asialoglycoprotein receptor-mediated recognition while they become exceedingly spread under integrin-mediated adhesion on collagen gel coated substrate. The initial rate of adhesion contact formation and the steady-state adhesion energy of HepG2 cell population are highest on substrate conjugated with galactose ligand via a longer spacer. The adhesion dynamics and final adhesion energy of HepG2 cells depends both on the type of ligand-receptor interaction and the length of spacer between the ligand and substrate. Most importantly, new biophysical insights into the initial hepatocyte attachment that are critical for hepatocyte culture are provided through the decomposition of two-dimensional spreading and adhesion contact formation on bio-functional substrates.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)837-850
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Adhesion
  • Contact
  • Hepatocyte
  • Ligand


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