Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 37, Issue 11, pp 2317–2325 | Cite as

Characterization of Cell Mechanical Properties by Computational Modeling of Parallel Plate Compression

  • J. P. McGarry


A substantial body of work has been reported in which the mechanical properties of adherent cells were characterized using compression testing in tandem with computational modeling. However, a number of important issues remain to be addressed. In the current study, using computational analyses, the effect of cell compressibility on the force required to deform spread cells is investigated and the possibility that stiffening of the cell cytoplasm occurs during spreading is examined based on published experimental compression test data. The effect of viscoelasticity on cell compression is considered and difficulties in performing a complete characterization of the viscoelastic properties of a cell nucleus and cytoplasm by this method are highlighted. Finally, a non-linear force-deformation response is simulated using differing linear viscoelastic properties for the cell nucleus and the cell cytoplasm.


Cell compression Computational analysis Viscoelastic Poisson’s ratio Cytoplasm stiffening 



The author would like to thank Prof. K.A. Athanasiou, Dr. G. Ofek and Prof. P.E. McHugh for insightful discussions. Funding was provided in part by the Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme (SFI-RFP/ENM1726), and in part by an Irish Council for Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) Postdoctoral Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, National Centre for Biomedical Engineering ScienceNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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