Comparative atomic force and scanning electron microscopy for fine structural images of nerve cells

Takuro Tojima, Dai Hatakeyama, Yukako Yamane, Kazushige Kawabata, Tatsuo Ushiki, Shigeaki Ogura, Kazuhiro Abe, Etsuro Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Although we can routinely obtain fine structural images of cells by atomic force microscopy (AFM), the adequacy and reliability of morphological information acquired from these AFM images remain to be examined. In this report, we compared images of the fine structures of nerve cells as observed by both AFM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Although AFM revealed the structure of the top views of cells in greater detail than SEM, their side structures were better observed by SEM. The linear structures in the neural processes detected only by AFM were confirmed, by immunofluorescence staining, to be reflections of the cytoskeletal structures located beneath the cell membrane. These differences between the AFM and the SEM images reflected the characteristics of the detection systems and methods used for sample preparation. Therefore, these results revealed that more detailed information on cell morphology can be obtained by using both AFM and SEM to advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3855-3859
Number of pages5
JournalJapanese Journal of Applied Physics, Part 1: Regular Papers and Short Notes and Review Papers
Issue number6 SUPPL. B
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin filament
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Fixation
  • Immunofluorescence staining
  • Metal coating
  • Microtubule
  • NG108-15
  • Scanning electron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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