Analysing intracellular deformation of polymer capsules using structured illumination microscopy†
Understanding the behaviour of therapeutic carriers is important in elucidating their mechanism of action and how they are processed inside cells. Herein we examine the intracellular deformation of layer-by-layer assembled polymer capsules using super-resolution structured illumination microscopy (SIM). Spherical- and cylindrical-shaped capsules were studied in three different cell lines, namely HeLa (human epithelial cell line), RAW264.7 (mouse macrophage cell line) and differentiated THP-1 (human monocyte-derived macrophage cell line). We observed that the deformation of capsules was dependent on cell line, but independent of capsule shape. This suggests that the mechanical forces, which induce capsule deformation during cell uptake, vary between cell lines, indicating that the capsules are exposed to higher mechanical forces in HeLa cells, followed by RAW264.7 and then differentiated THP-1 cells. Our study demonstrates the use of super-resolution SIM in analysing intracellular capsule deformation, offering important insights into the cellular processing of drug carriers in cells and providing fundamental knowledge of intracellular mechanobiology. Furthermore, this study may aid in the design of novel drug carriers that are sensitive to deformation for enhanced drug release properties.