Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1495–1508 | Cite as

Effects of oxidative stress-induced changes in the actin cytoskeletal structure on myoblast damage under compressive stress: confocal-based cell-specific finite element analysis

  • Yifei Yao
  • Damien Lacroix
  • Arthur F. T. Mak
Original Paper


Muscle cells are frequently subjected to both mechanical and oxidative stresses in various physiological and pathological situations. To explore the mechanical mechanism of muscle cell damage under loading and oxidative stresses, we experimentally studied the effects of extrinsic hydrogen peroxides on the actin cytoskeletal structure in C2C12 myoblasts and presented a finite element (FE) analysis of how such changes in the actin cytoskeletal structure affected a myoblast’s capability to resist damage under compression. A confocal-based cell-specific FE model was built to parametrically study the effects of stress fiber density, fiber cross-sectional area, fiber tensile prestrain, as well as the elastic moduli of the stress fibers, actin cortex, nucleus and cytoplasm. The results showed that a decrease in the elastic moduli of both the stress fibers and actin cortex could increase the average tensile strain on the actin cortex–membrane structure and reduce the apparent cell elastic modulus. Assuming the cell would die when a certain percentage of membrane elements were strained beyond a threshold, a lower elastic modulus of actin cytoskeleton would compromise the compressive resistance of a myoblast and lead to cell death more readily. This model was used with a Weibull distribution function to successfully describe the extent of myoblasts damaged in a monolayer under compression.


Oxidative stress Actin cytoskeleton Myoblast  Finite element modeling Weibull distribution 



This study was supported by Hong Kong Research Grant Council (RGC Ref. No. CUHK415413). And we thank Mr. Chan Jiajie for facilitating the operation of confocal microscope.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yifei Yao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Damien Lacroix
    • 2
  • Arthur F. T. Mak
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biomedical EngineeringThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering, INSIGNEO Institute for In Silico MedicineUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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