Confocal microscopy-based three-dimensional cell-specific modeling for large deformation analyses in cellular mechanics

Noa Slomka, Amit Gefen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study introduces a new confocal microscopy-based three-dimensional cell-specific finite element (FE) modeling methodology for simulating cellular mechanics experiments involving large cell deformations. Three-dimensional FE models of undifferentiated skeletal muscle cells were developed by scanning C2C12 myoblasts using a confocal microscope, and then building FE model geometries from the z-stack images. Strain magnitudes and distributions in two cells were studied when the cells were subjected to compression and stretching, which are used in pressure ulcer and deep tissue injury research to induce large cell deformations. Localized plasma membrane and nuclear surface area (NSA) stretches were observed for both the cell compression and stretching simulation configurations. It was found that in order to induce large tensile strains (>5%) in the plasma membrane and NSA, one needs to apply more than ~15% of global cell deformation in cell compression tests, or more than ~3% of tensile strains in the elastic plate substrate in cell stretching experiments. Utilization of our modeling can substantially enrich experimental cellular mechanics studies in classic cell loading designs that typically involve large cell deformations, such as static and cyclic stretching, cell compression, micropipette aspiration, shear flow and hydrostatic pressure, by providing magnitudes and distributions of the localized cellular strains specific to each setup and cell type, which could then be associated with the applied stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1806-1816
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Cell compression
  • Cell stretching
  • Deep tissue injury
  • Finite element model
  • Pressure ulcer


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