Measurement of adhesive forces between S. epidermidis and fibronectin-coated surfaces using optical tweezers

Kathryn Hicks Simpson, M. Gabriela Bowden, Magnus Höök, Bahman Anvari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Biomaterial-mediated infection, a common cause of medical device failure, is initiated by bacterial adhesion to an adsorbed protein layer on the implant surface. This adhesion is thought to be mediated by specific molecules present on the bacterial cell surface. Optical tweezers can be used to measure the adhesive force between a single bacterium and a proteincoated surface. Study Design/Materials and Methods: Using optical tweezers, a bacterium was trapped and brought in contact with a 10-μm diameter polystyrene microsphere coated with fibronectin. The minimum force required to detach the cell from the bead was determined over a range of fibronectin concentrations and contact times. Results: The detachment forces were integer multiples of an 18-pN base value that was independent of contact time and coating concentration; we propose that the variation in force is related to the number of bonds formed. Conclusions: These experiments demonstrate that optical tweezers can be used to investigate the adhesion of individual bacteria to surfaces. The results suggest that S. epidermidis has surface proteins capable of binding fibronectin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bacterial adhesion
  • Biofilm
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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