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J Biomech. 2009 Aug 7;42(11):1692-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.04.013. Epub 2009 May 15.

Biaxial cell stimulation: A mechanical validation.

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Julius Wolff Institut and Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Berlin/Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


To analyse mechanotransduction resulting from tensile loading under defined conditions, various devices for in vitro cell stimulation have been developed. This work aimed to determine the strain distribution on the membrane of a commercially available device and its consistency with rising cycle numbers, as well as the amount of strain transferred to adherent cells. The strains and their behaviour within the stimulation device were determined using digital image correlation (DIC). The strain transferred to cells was measured on eGFP-transfected bone marrow-derived cells imaged with a fluorescence microscope. The analysis was performed by determining the coordinates of prominent positions on the cells, calculating vectors between the coordinates and their length changes with increasing applied tensile strain. The stimulation device was found to apply homogeneous (mean of standard deviations approx. 2% of mean strain) and reproducible strains in the central well area. However, on average, only half of the applied strain was transferred to the bone marrow-derived cells. Furthermore, the strain measured within the device increased significantly with an increasing number of cycles while the membrane's Young's modulus decreased, indicating permanent changes in the material during extended use. Thus, strain magnitudes do not match the system readout and results require careful interpretation, especially at high cycle numbers.

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