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Scientists at Roche Developed an Impedance-Based Contraction Assay Using Human Primary Smooth Muscle Cells and Fibroblasts

The measurement of contractility of Bronchial smooth muscle cells (BSMCs) and airway fibroblasts are important to study the pathogenesis of allergy/asthma and the mechanism of action of anti-allergic/asthmatic drugs. The conventional gel contraction assay is frequently used to study both fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells in vitro, but it is extremely laborious and low throughput.

To overcome the limits of the contraction assay, a team of researchers at Genentech developed an impedance-based contraction assay using the xCELLigence RTCA MP system.

The major benefits of this new impedance-based method compared to the conventional collagen gel contraction assay are

  • High specificity and reproducibility
  • Low sample and reagent consumption
  • Capable of analyzing multiple targets in one analysis
  • Enabled the study the kinetics of the cellular contractility
  • EC50 or IC50 values can be generated for any time point during the cellular contractile process
  • Shortened assay time (about two hours) compared to measuring accumulated contractile results in collagen gel contraction assay

The study was published in the October issue of Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods. (J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2017 Oct 19; 89:47-53.)


Endothelin-1 induced BSMCs contraction was recorded in real time by xCELLigence. Figures adapted from J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2017 Oct 19;89:47-53.

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