Intracellular water concentrations in single living cells were visualized by nonlinear coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy. In combination with isotopic exchange measurements, CARS microscopy allowed the real-time observation of transient intracellular hydrodynamics at a high spatial resolution. Studies of the hydrodynamics in the microorganism Dictyostelium discoideum indicated the presence of a microscopic region near the plasma membrane where the mobility of water molecules is severely restricted. Modeling the transient hydrodynamics eventuated in the determination of cell-specific cytosolic diffusion and plasma membrane permeability constants. Our experiments demonstrate that CARS microscopy offers an invaluable tool for probing single-cell water dynamics.
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