Biomedical Microdevices

, 20:85 | Cite as

Direct application of mechanical stimulation to cell adhesion sites using a novel magnetic-driven micropillar substrate

  • Kazuaki NagayamaEmail author
  • Takuya Inoue
  • Yasuhiro Hamada
  • Shukei Sugita
  • Takeo MatsumotoEmail author


Cells change the traction forces generated at their adhesion sites, and these forces play essential roles in regulating various cellular functions. Here, we developed a novel magnetic-driven micropillar array PDMS substrate that can be used for the mechanical stimulation to cellular adhesion sites and for the measurement of associated cellular traction forces. The diameter, length, and center-to-center spacing of the micropillars were 3, 9, and 9 μm, respectively. Sufficient quantities of iron particles were successfully embedded into the micropillars, enabling the pillars to bend in response to an external magnetic field. We established two methods to apply magnetic fields to the micropillars (Suresh 2007). Applying a uniform magnetic field of 0.3 T bent all of the pillars by ~4 μm (Satcher et al. 1997). Creating a magnetic field gradient in the vicinity of the substrate generated a well-defined local force on the pillars. Deflection of the micropillars allowed transfer of external forces to the actin cytoskeleton through adhesion sites formed on the pillar top. Using the magnetic field gradient method, we measured the traction force changes in cultured vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) after local cyclic stretch stimulation at one edge of the cells. We found that the responses of SMCs were quite different from cell to cell, and elongated cells with larger pre-tension exhibited significant retraction following stretch stimulation. Our magnetic-driven micropillar substrate should be useful in investigating cellular mechanotransduction mechanisms.


Cell biomechanics Magnetic particles Microfabrication Mechanotransduction 



This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (nos. 16 K12865 and 17H02077 to K.N., and nos.15H02209 and 17 K20102 to T.M.), Naito foundation, Japan (K.N.), Takahashi industrial and economic research foundation, Japan (K.N.), and AMED-CREST from Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED (JP18gm0810005 to K.N. and T.M.).

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical EngineeringNagoya Institute of TechnologyNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Micro-Nano Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Systems EngineeringIbaraki UniversityHitachiJapan
  3. 3.Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Systems EngineeringNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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