This study presents the effect of external electric current on the cell adhesive and mechanical properties of the C2C12 mouse myoblast cell line. Changes in cell morphology, viability, cytoskeleton, and focal adhesion structure were studied by standard staining protocols, while single-cell force spectroscopy based on the fluidic force microscopy technology provided a rapid, serial quantification and detailed analysis of cell adhesion and its dynamics. The setup allowed measurements of adhesion forces up to the μN range, and total detachment distances over 40 μm. Force–distance curves have been fitted with a simple elastic model including a cell detachment protocol in order to estimate the Young's modulus of the cells, as well as to reveal changes in the dynamic properties as functions of the applied current dose. While the cell spreading area decreased monotonously with increasing current doses, small current doses resulted only in differences related to cell elasticity. Current doses above 11 As/m2, however, initiated more drastic changes in cell morphology, viability, cellular structure, as well as in properties related to cell adhesion. The observed differences, eventually leading to cell death toward higher doses, might originate from both the decrease in pH and the generation of reactive oxygen species.

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