Cell mechanics: principles, practices, and prospects.
Bottom Line: Genetic mutations and pathogens that disrupt the cytoskeletal architecture can result in changes to cell mechanical properties such as elasticity, adhesiveness, and viscosity.Interdisciplinary research combining modern molecular biology with advanced cell mechanical characterization techniques now paves the way for furthering our fundamental understanding of cell mechanics and its role in development, physiology, and disease.We describe a generalized outline for measuring cell mechanical properties including loading protocols, tools, and data interpretation.We summarize recent advances in the field and explain how cell biomechanics research can be adopted by physicists, engineers, biologists, and clinicians alike.
Related in: MedlinePlus
Mentions: Under physiologically relevant timescales cells are intrinsically viscoelastic, as they display a combination of both elastic and time-dependent responses to deformation. With an emphasis on the interplay between stress, strain, and the rate of flow, rheological measurements are used to investigate how cells flow rather than deform purely elastically in response to an applied force. At this point it is important to note that the simple mechanical terms elasticity and viscosity can be used as comparative quantities in cell mechanics. Many of the early cell mechanical measurements have shown links between local increases in cellular elasticity and subcellular structures such as stress fibres23–25 and changes to cellular elastic and viscous properties under different treatments.26–28 However, the applicability of these terms in a strict engineering sense is non-trivial and a range of complex rheological behaviors for cellular systems have been observed (see section, Universal Cell Behaviors and Beyond Simple Phenomenology). Typical values for the cell elastic modulus range from a few hundred pascals to tens of kilopascals (Figure 2(c)), and the cellular viscosity is in the order of a few hundred pascal-seconds.