Selective induction of targeted cell death and elimination by near-infrared femtosecond laser ablation

Kazunori Okano*, Chung Han Wang, Zhen Yi Hong, Yoichiroh Hosokawa, Ian Liau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The techniques for inducing the death of specific cells in tissue has attracted attention as new methodologies for studying cell function and tissue regeneration. In this study, we show that a sequential process of targeted cell death and removal can be triggered by short-term exposure of near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses. Kinetic analysis of the intracellular accumulation of trypan blue and the assay of caspase activity revealed that femtosecond laser pulses induced immediate disturbance of plasma membrane integrity followed by apoptosis-like cell death. Yet, adjacent cells showed no sign of membrane damage and no increased caspase activity. The laser-exposed cells eventually detached from the substrate after a delay of >54 min while adjacent cells remained intact. On the base of in vitro experiments, we applied the same approach to ablate targeted single cardiac cells of a live zebrafish heart. The ability of inducing targeted cell death with femtosecond laser pulses should find broad applications that benefit from precise cellular manipulation at the level of single cells in vivo and in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100818
JournalBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Ablation
  • Cell adhesion
  • Cell death
  • Femtosecond laser
  • Photo-apoptosis

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