Physical analysis reveals distinct responses of human bronchial epithelial cells to guanidine and isothiazolinone biocides

Tae Yoon Kwon, Jaeseong Jeong, Eunyoung Park, Youngbin Cho, Dongyoung Lim, Ung Hyun Ko, Jennifer H. Shin, Jinhee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Changes in the physical state of the cells can serve as important indicators of stress responses because they are closely linked with the changes in the pathophysiological functions of the cells. Physical traits can be conveniently assessed by analyzing the morphological features and the stresses at the cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions in both single-cell and monolayer model systems in 2D. In this study, we investigated the mechano-stress responses of human bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, to two functionally distinct groups of biocides identified during the humidifier disinfectant accident, namely, guanidine (PHMG) and isothiazolinone (CMIT/MIT). We analyzed the physical traits, including cell area, nuclear area, and nuclear shape. While the results showed inconsistent average responses to the biocides, the degree of dispersion in the data set, measured by standard deviation, was remarkably higher in CMIT/MIT treated cells for all traits. As mechano-stress endpoints, traction and intercellular stresses were also measured, and the cytoskeletal actin structures were analyzed using immunofluorescence. This study demonstrates the versatility of the real-time imaging-based biomechanical analysis, which will contribute to identifying the temporally sensitive cellular behaviors as well as the emergence of heterogeneity in response to exogenously imposed stress factors. This study will also shed light on a comparative understanding of less studied substance, CMIT/MIT, in relation to a more studied substance, PHMG, which will further contribute to more strategic planning for proper risk management of the ingredients involved in toxicological accidents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115589
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Biomechanical endpoints
  • Heterogeneity
  • Monolayer stress microscopy
  • PHMG
  • Traction force microscopy


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