Quantitative microscopy and nanoscopy of sickle red blood cells performed by wide field digital interferometry

Natan T. Shaked, Lisa L. Satterwhite, Marilyn J. Telen, George A. Truskey, Adam Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have applied wide-field digital interferometry (WFDI) to examine the morphology and dynamics of live red blood cells (RBCs) from individuals who suffer from sickle cell anemia (SCA), a genetic disorder that affects the structure and mechanical properties of RBCs. WFDI is a non-contact, label-free optical microscopy approach that can yield quantitative thickness profiles of RBCs and measurements of their membrane fluctuations atthe nanometer scale reflecting their stiffness. We find that RBCs from individuals with SCA are significantly stiffer than those from a healthy control. Moreover, we show that the technique is sensitive enough to distinguish classes of RBCs in SCA, including sickle RBCs with apparently normal morphology, compared to the stiffer crescent-shaped sickle RBCs. We expect that this approach will be useful for diagnosis of SCA and for determining efficacy of therapeutic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number030506
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell imaging
  • Erythrocytes
  • Interferometry
  • Quantitative phase microscopy
  • Red blood cells
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Sickle cell disease


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