We describe an original scanning near field optical microscope setup developed to examine rhythmically beating cardiac myocytes fully immersed in culture media. Scans could be halted at any point to record localized contraction profiles. Contractions could be detected with high sub nanometric vertical sensitivity and changed shape dramatically within adjacent sub micron-sized areas. We believe that the spatial dependency of contractions arises because of system's ability to resolve the dynamic behavior of individual sub membrane actin bundles. Our results, combining imaging and real time recording in localized areas, reveal a new, non-invasive method for studying sub micron morphological activity in live biological samples.
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