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Biorheology. 2003;40(1-3):383-8.

In vitro models to study compressive strain-induced muscle cell damage.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


Skeletal muscle tissue is highly susceptible to sustained compressive straining, eventually leading to tissue breakdown in the form of pressure sores. This breakdown begins at the cellular level and is believed to be triggered by sustained cell deformation. To study the relationship between compressive strain-induced muscle cell deformation and damage, and to investigate the role of cell-cell interactions, cell-matrix interactions and tissue geometry in this process, in vitro models of single cells, monolayers and 3D tissue analogs under compression are being developed. Compression is induced using specially designed loading devices, while cell deformation is visualised with confocal microscopy. Cell damage is assessed from viability tests, vital microscopy and histological or biochemical analyses. Preliminary results from a 3D cell seeded agarose model indicate that cell deformation is indeed an important trigger for cell damage; sustained compression of the model at 20% strain results in a significant increase in cell damage with time of compression, whereas damage in unstrained controls remains constant over time.

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