The Journal of cell biology

Optical volume and mass measurements show that mammalian cells swell during mitosis.

PMID 26598614


The extent, mechanism, and function of cell volume changes during specific cellular events, such as cell migration and cell division, have been poorly studied, mostly because of a lack of adequate techniques. Here we unambiguously report that a large range of mammalian cell types display a significant increase in volume during mitosis (up to 30%). We further show that this increase in volume is tightly linked to the mitotic state of the cell and not to its spread or rounded shape and is independent of the presence of an intact actomyosin cortex. Importantly, this volume increase is not accompanied by an increase in dry mass and thus corresponds to a decrease in cell density. This mitotic swelling might have important consequences for mitotic progression: it might contribute to produce strong pushing forces, allowing mitotic cells to round up; it might also, by lowering cytoplasmic density, contribute to the large change of physicochemical properties observed in mitotic cells.