An introductory review of cell mechanobiology

Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2006 Mar;5(1):1-16. doi: 10.1007/s10237-005-0012-z. Epub 2006 Jan 28.


Mechanical loads induce changes in the structure, composition, and function of living tissues. Cells in tissues are responsible for these changes, which cause physiological or pathological alterations in the extracellular matrix (ECM). This article provides an introductory review of the mechanobiology of load-sensitive cells in vivo, which include fibroblasts, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells. Many studies have shown that mechanical loads affect diverse cellular functions, such as cell proliferation, ECM gene and protein expression, and the production of soluble factors. Major cellular components involved in the mechanotransduction mechanisms include the cytoskeleton, integrins, G proteins, receptor tyrosine kinases, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and stretch-activated ion channels. Future research in the area of cell mechanobiology will require novel experimental and theoretical methodologies to determine the type and magnitude of the forces experienced at the cellular and sub-cellular levels and to identify the force sensors/receptors that initiate the cascade of cellular and molecular events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / methods*
  • Biophysics / methods*
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Mechanical*


  • Cytokines
  • Growth Substances
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases