Strain profiles for circular cell culture plates containing flexible surfaces employed to mechanically deform cells in vitro

J Biomech. 1994 Sep;27(9):1169-77. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(94)90057-4.


Cells in the body are constantly subjected to cyclic mechanical deformation involving tension, compression, or shear strain or all three. A mechanical loading system which deforms cultured cells in vitro was analyzed in order to quantify the deformation or strain to which the cells are subjected. The dynamic system utilizes vacuum pressure to deform a circular silicone rubber substrate on which cells are cultured. These thick circular growth surfaces or plates are formed in the bottoms of the wells of 6-well culture plates. An axisymmetric model was formulated and analyzed using rectangular hyperelastic elements in a finite element analysis (FEA) software package. The thick circular plate has some disadvantages such as difficulty in observing cells and a nonhomogeneous strain profile which is maximum at the periphery and minimal at the center. A thinner circular surface (a thin plate) was also investigated in order to provide a more homogeneous strain profile. The radial strain on the thick circular plate, as determined by FEA, was nonlinear with a peak strain value of 0.30 (vacuum pressure of 22 kPa) about three-quarters of the distance from the center to the edge. In contrast, the radial strain of the thin circular plate was moderately constant across the surface. The circumferential strain for both of these models was less than the radial strain except for the center where they are equal. Avian tendon cells were cultured on the surface of a thick plate and exposed to cyclic strains for 24 h at a rate of 0.17 Hz and observed for cellular alignment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Size / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Culture Techniques / methods
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Elasticity
  • Models, Biological*
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surface Properties
  • Tendons / cytology


  • DNA