Functional Stem Cell Biomechanics: Application of Biophysical Techniques and Multi-content 3D Image Analysis

  • Shan Sun
  • Amit Paul
  • John Kanagaraj
  • Michael Cho
Part of the Biosystems & Biorobotics book series (BIOSYSROB, volume 9)


The mechanical properties of the cell - cytoskeleton elasticity, membrane tension, and adhesion strength - play an important role in the regulation of stem cell differentiation. While the cellular mechanical properties are significantly altered during stem cell specification to a particular phenotype, the complexity of events associated with transformation of these precursor cells leaves many questions unanswered about morphological, structural, proteomic, and functional changes in differentiating stem cells. However, control of cell behaviors might be feasible through manipulation of the cellular mechanical properties using external physical stimuli and manipulation of mechanically sensitive signaling molecules. Biomechanical regulation of stem cell differentiation can minimize the number of chemicals and growth factors that would otherwise be required for tissue engineering. Coupled with a thorough understanding of stem cell behavior, both experimentally and computationally, development of more effective approaches is a feasible way to expand stem cells and to regulate their phenotypic commitment. We recently developed a high-content/high-throughput screening algorithm that offers significant improvements in 3D quantitative analysis at the single cell level. A consistent pattern observed in all types of stem cell differentiation indicates the cytoskeleton remodeled significantly before lineage-specific cellular changes occurred. This demonstrates that cellular mechanical transformations are a precursor to stem cell differentiation and to phenotypic functionality.


Stem cell Mechanobiology Cellular mechanics 3D image reconstruction Multi content analytics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shan Sun
    • 1
  • Amit Paul
    • 1
  • John Kanagaraj
    • 1
  • Michael Cho
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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