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Cyclic strain induced cell reorientation

Recognition of external mechanical signals by cells is an essential process for life. As a fundamental feature, cells actively sense and respond to varying environmental conditions. Mechanical stretch, e.g. around blood vessels or in lung tissue, is one such signal that induces cell reorientation away from the direction of stretch.

Here, we present quantitative analyses of hundreds of cells from umbilical cord tissue, cultivated on elastomeric substrates. After exposing cells to cyclic strain of biologically relevant amplitude and frequency, we analyzed the reorientation of their cytoskeletal filaments. Our data fit well to specific theoretical models for cellular reorientation in mammalian tissues.

Publication: Cyclic stress at mHz frequencies aligns fibroblasts in direction of zero strain. Faust U, Hampe N, Rubner W, Kirchgessner N, Safran S, Hoffmann B, Merkel R. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28963. Epub 2011 Dec 16.