Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 963–971

Osteoblast Elastic Modulus Measured by Atomic Force Microscopy Is Substrate Dependent


  • Erica Takai
    • Bone Bioengineering LaboratoryColumbia University
  • Kevin D. Costa
    • Cardiac Cell Mechanics LaboratoryColumbia University
  • Aisha Shaheen
    • Cardiac Cell Mechanics LaboratoryColumbia University
  • Clark T. Hung
    • Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cellular Engineering LaboratoryColumbia University
    • Bone Bioengineering LaboratoryColumbia University
    • 351 Engineering TerraceColumbia University

DOI: 10.1007/s10439-005-3555-3

Cite this article as:
Takai, E., Costa, K.D., Shaheen, A. et al. Ann Biomed Eng (2005) 33: 963. doi:10.1007/s10439-005-3555-3


The actin and microtubule cytoskeleton have been found to contribute to the elastic modulus of cells, which may be modulated by adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and subsequent alterations in the cytoskeleton. In this study, the apparent elastic modulus (Eapp) of osteoblast-like MC3T3-E1 cells adhered to fibronectin (FN), vitronectin (VN), type I collagen (COLI), fetal bovine serum (FBS), or poly-l-lysine (PLL), and bare glass were determined using an atomic force microscope (AFM). The Eapp of osteoblasts adhered to ECM proteins (FN, VN, COLI, and FBS) that bind cells via integrins were higher compared to cells on glass and PLL, which adhere cells through nonspecific binding. Also, osteoblasts adhered to FN, VN, COLI, and FBS had F-actin stress fiber formation, while osteoblasts on glass and PLL showed few F-actin fibers. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton decreased Eapp of osteoblasts plated on FN to the level of osteoblasts plated on glass, while microtubule disruption had no significant effect. This suggests that the elevated modulus of osteoblasts adhered to FN was due to remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton upon adhesion to ECM proteins. Modulation of cell stiffness upon adhesion to various substrates may influence mechanosignal transduction in osteoblasts.


OsteoblastsExtracellular matrixAtomic force microscopyModulus

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© Biomedical Engineering Society 2005