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J Micromech Microeng. 2011 May;21(5):54016-54025.

Integrated strain array for cellular mechanobiology studies.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.


We have developed an integrated strain array for cell culture enabling high-throughput mechano-transduction studies. Biocompatible cell culture chambers were integrated with an acrylic pneumatic compartment and microprocessor-based control system. Each element of the array consists of a deformable membrane supported by a cylindrical pillar within a well. For user-prescribed waveforms, the annular region of the deformable membrane is pulled into the well around the pillar under vacuum, causing the pillar-supported region with cultured cells to be stretched biaxially. The optically clear device and pillar-based mechanism of operation enables imaging on standard laboratory microscopes. Straightforward fabrication utilizes off-the-shelf components, soft lithography techniques in polydimethylsiloxane, and laser ablation of acrylic sheets. Proof of compatibility with basic biological assays and standard imaging equipment were accomplished by straining C2C12 skeletal myoblast cells on the device for 6 hours. At higher strains, cells and actin stress fibers realign with a circumferential preference.

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