Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities

© 1999 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999


4.8.5 Cell Volume Sensing

Many cellular parameters need not be measured directly in order to be detected by a medical nanodevice. Cell volume sensing is a case in point.1198 An intracellular nanodevice can indirectly monitor changes in the volume of the cell in which it resides by one of two methods. First, measurements of the mechanical deformation of the cellular membrane, stretch-activated channels, or cytoskeletal strains and structural changes are quite sensitive to alterations in total cell volume. Second, concentration or dilution of the cytoplasmic environment through cell shrinkage or swelling leads to the activation of various volume-regulation responses which may be detected by the nanorobot. Changes in the concentration of soluble cytosolic proteins may nonspecifically affect enzyme activity via "macro- molecular crowding"491 (and see Section Minor changes in cell volume can cause severalfold changes in ion transport. Cellular signalling entities that have been linked to the transduction and amplification of the primary volume signal include Ca++ transients, phosphoinositide turnover, eicosanoid metabolism, kinase/phosphatase systems such as JNK and p38, cAMP, and G-proteins.491 These signal amplification pathways may be monitored using chemical concentration sensors aboard the medical nanodevice, allowing the nanorobot to eavesdrop (Section on the natural sensory channel traffic of the cell.


Last updated on 17 February 2003