Cancer cells undergo a variety of biochemical and biophysical transformations when compared to identical cells displaying a healthy phenotypic state, cancer cells show a drastic reduction of stiffness upon malignancy[1, 2] and change of stiffness of single cells can indicate the presence of disease [3–6]. Besides, metastatic cancer has a higher deformability than their benign counterparts[7, 8]. Using atomic force microscopy, we demonstrated that cancerous ovarian cells (OVCAR3, OVCAR4, HEY and HEYA8) are substantially softer than the healthy immortalized ovarian surface epithelium (IOSE) cells. In addition, within the different types of cancerous ovarian cells, increased invasiveness and migration are directly correlated with increased cell deformability. These results indicate that stiffness of individual cells can distinguish not only ovarian cancer cells from healthy cells types, but also invasive cancer types from less invasive types. Stiffness may provide an alternative and convenient biomarker to grade the metastasis potential of cancer cells.

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