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PeerJ. 2019 Mar 7;7:e6545. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6545. eCollection 2019.

Experimental mechanical strain measurement of tissues.

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Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.


Strain, an important biomechanical factor, occurs at different scales from molecules and cells to tissues and organs in physiological conditions. Under mechanical strain, the strength of tissues and their micro- and nanocomponents, the structure, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of cells and even the cytokines expressed by cells probably shift. Thus, the measurement of mechanical strain (i.e., relative displacement or deformation) is critical to understand functional changes in tissues, and to elucidate basic relationships between mechanical loading and tissue response. In the last decades, a great number of methods have been developed and applied to measure the deformations and mechanical strains in tissues comprising bone, tendon, ligament, muscle and brain as well as blood vessels. In this article, we have reviewed the mechanical strain measurement from six aspects: electro-based, light-based, ultrasound-based, magnetic resonance-based and computed tomography-based techniques, and the texture correlation-based image processing method. The review may help solving the problems of experimental and mechanical strain measurement of tissues under different measurement environments.


Biomechanics; Deformation; Mechanical loading; Mechanical strain; Tissue

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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