In situ quantification of osmotic pressure within living embryonic tissues

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Mechanics is known to play a fundamental role in many cellular and developmental processes. Beyond active forces and material properties, osmotic pressure is believed to control essential cell and tissue characteristics. However, it remains very challenging to perform in situ and in vivo measurements of osmotic pressure. Here we introduce double emulsion droplet sensors that enable local measurements of osmotic pressure intra- and extra-cellularly within 3D multicellular systems, including living tissues. After generating and calibrating the sensors, we measure the osmotic pressure in blastomeres of early zebrafish embryos as well as in the interstitial fluid between the cells of the blastula by monitoring the size of droplets previously inserted in the embryo. Our results show a balance between intracellular and interstitial osmotic pressures, with values of approximately 0.7 MPa, but a large pressure imbalance between the inside and outside of the embryo. The ability to measure osmotic pressure in 3D multicellular systems, including developing embryos and organoids, will help improve our understanding of its role in fundamental biological processes.


Original languageEnglish
Article number7023
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2023

External IDs

PubMed 37919265