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Acta Biomater. 2005 May;1(3):255-62. Epub 2005 Mar 29.

Effects of cytoskeletal prestress on cell rheological behavior.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, 44 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Normal tissue development requires that cells alter their mechanical behavior in different microenvironments to carry out their diverse functions. During cell spreading, migration, invasion and mitosis, cells exhibit a high degree of deformability, exhibiting almost a fluid-like behavior, whereas within quiescent differentiated tissues, cells must behave like an elastic solid to maintain their structural integrity in the face of an applied mechanical stress. A growing body of experimental evidence suggests that rheological properties of adherent cells depend on pre-existing tensional stress ("prestress") borne by the cytoskeleton. This prestress results from the action of tensional forces borne by actin microfilaments, transmitted over intermediate filaments and resisted by both extracellular matrix adhesions and internal microtubules. Observations that the prestress influences mechanical properties of the cell are intimately related to the cellular tensegrity model. This model depicts the cytoskeleton as an interconnected network of cables that carry pre-existing tension that is balanced by compression-bearing struts and by anchoring forces of the substrate. This paper offers a brief survey of the basic concept of cellular tensegrity model, comparison of model predictions with experimental data obtained from rheological measurements on living cells, and comparison with other models that have been used in studies of rheology of cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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