Three-dimensional traction force microscopy of engineered epithelial tissues

Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1189:191-206. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1164-6_13.


Several biological processes, including cell migration, tissue morphogenesis, and cancer metastasis, are fundamentally physical in nature; each implicitly involves deformations driven by mechanical forces. Traction force microscopy (TFM) was initially developed to quantify the forces exerted by individual isolated cells in two-dimensional (2D) culture. Here, we extend this technique to estimate the traction forces generated by engineered three-dimensional (3D) epithelial tissues embedded within a surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM). This technique provides insight into the physical mechanisms that underlie tissue morphogenesis in 3D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / chemistry
  • Epithelium / physiology*
  • Fluorescence
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force*
  • Microspheres
  • Morphogenesis
  • Time-Lapse Imaging
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes