How to Take a Beating
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"Cardiac muscle cells have the unique ability to both detect local forces and generate their own. Measurement of these cell-driven forces is possible by first tracking the motion of cardiac myocytes during their contraction cycle. But how is this beating best captured in a three-dimensional (3D) culture environment? One way is through the use of trackable fluorescent objects that are dispersed around individual cells. As a myocyte contracts, it displaces these features, which can be traced over time in a given plane. This image shows a cell’s-eye view of two different scales of polymer-based tracking objects, including small beads (red, foreground, 0.5 micrometers in diameter) and large structures (blue, background, 100 micrometers long). In using this setup, my work seeks to understand how cardiac muscle cells adapt and function in 3D spaces. The image, a 3D reconstruction of fluorescent signals, was acquired via laser confocal microscopy at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the assistance of Dr. Mei Ling Chen at the Confocal Microscopy Facility."