Finite-Element Modeling of Viscoelastic Cells During High-Frequency Cyclic Strain
J. Funct. Biomater.
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Mechanotransduction refers to the mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to local loads and forces. The process of mechanotransduction plays an important role both in maintaining tissue viability and in remodeling to repair damage; moreover, it may be involved in the initiation and progression of diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. An understanding of the mechanisms by which cells respond to surrounding tissue matrices or artificial biomaterials is crucial in regenerative medicine and in influencing cellular differentiation. Recent studies have shown that some cells may be most sensitive to low-amplitude, high-frequency (i.e., 1–100 Hz) mechanical stimulation. Advances in finite-element modeling have made it possible to simulate high-frequency mechanical loading of cells. We have developed a viscoelastic finite-element model of an osteoblastic cell (including cytoskeletal actin stress fibers), attached to an elastomeric membrane undergoing cyclic isotropic radial strain with a peak value of 1,000 µstrain. The results indicate that cells experience significant stress and strain amplification when undergoing high-frequency strain, with peak values of cytoplasmic strain five times higher at 45 Hz than at 1 Hz, and peak Von Mises stress in the nucleus increased by a factor of two. Focal stress and strain amplification in cells undergoing high-frequency mechanical stimulation may play an important role in mechanotransduction.