Review Article

Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, 46:951

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Biomechanical analysis of structural deformation in living cells

  • D. L. BaderAffiliated withSchool of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary, University of London
  • , M. M. KnightAffiliated withSchool of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary, University of London Email author 


Most tissues are subject to some form of physiological mechanical loading which results in deformation of the cells triggering intracellular mechanotransduction pathways. This response to loading is generally essential for the health of the tissue, although more pronounced deformation may result in cell and tissue damage. In order to determine the biological response of cells to loading it is necessary to understand how cells and intracellular structures deform. This paper reviews the various loading systems that have been adopted for studying cell deformation both in situ within tissue explants and in isolated cell culture systems. In particular it describes loading systems which facilitate visualisation and subsequent quantification of cell deformation. The review also describes the associated microscopy and image analysis techniques. The review focuses on deformation of chondrocytes with additional information on a variety of other cell types including neurons, red blood cells, epithelial cells and skin and muscle cells.


Cell deformation Mechanotransduction Mechanics Confocal Biomechanics