X.X. Sun, Z.L. Zhou, C.H. Man, A.Y.H. Leung, A.H.W. Ngan
A drug-free procedure for killing malignant cells in a cell-type specific manner would represent a significant breakthrough for leukemia treatment. Here, we show that mechanically vibrating a cell in a specific oscillation condition can significantly promote necrosis. Specifically, oscillating the cell by a low-power laser trap at specific frequencies of a few Hz was found to result in increased death rate of 50% or above in different types of myelogenous leukemia cells, while normal leukocytes showed very little response to similar laser manipulations. The alteration of cell membrane permeability and cell volume, detected from ethidium bromide staining and measurement of intracellular sodium ion concentration, together with the observed membrane blebbing within 10 minutes, suggest cell necrosis. Mechanics modelling reveals severe distortion of the cytoskeleton cortex at frequencies in the same range for peaked cell death. The disruption of cell membrane leading to cell death is therefore due to the cortex distortion, and the frequency at which this becomes significant is cell-type specific. Our findings lay down a new concept for treating leukemia based on vibration induced disruption of membrane in targeted malignant cells.