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research-article

A low-cost mechanical stretching device for uniaxial strain of cells: a platform for pedagogy in mechanobiology

[+] Author and Article Information
Hamza Atcha

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
atchah@uci.edu

Chase Davis

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
chase.davist@gmail.com

Nicholas R Sullivan

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
nick@nanocellect.com

Tim D. Smith

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
tim@tim-smith.us

Sara Anis

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
aniss@uci.edu

Waleed Z. Dahbour

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
waleeddahbour@gmail.com

Zachery R Robinson

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
zachery_robinson@berkeley.edu

Anna Grosberg

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Complex Biological Systems, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
grosberg@uci.edu

Wendy Liu

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697
wendy.liu@uci.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039949 History: Received January 11, 2018; Revised March 30, 2018

Abstract

Mechanical cues play a critical role in regulating the behavior of many cell types, particularly those that experience substantial mechanical stress within tissues. Devices that impart mechanical stimulation to cells in vitro have been instrumental in helping to develop a better understanding of how cells respond to mechanical forces. However, these devices often have constraints, such as cost and limited functional capabilities, that restrict their use in research or educational environments. Here, we describe a low-cost method to fabricate a uniaxial cell stretcher that would enable widespread use, and facilitate engineering design and mechanobiology education for undergraduate students. The device is capable of producing consistent and reliable strain profiles through the use of a servo motor, gear, and gear rack system. The servo motor can be programmed to output various waveforms at specific frequencies and stretch amplitudes by controlling the degree of rotation, speed, and acceleration of the servo gear. Furthermore, the stretchable membranes are easy to fabricate and can be customized, allowing for greater flexibility in culture well size. We used the custom-built stretching device to uniaxially strain macrophages and cardiomyocytes, and found that both cell types displayed functional and cell shape changes that were consistent with previous studies using commercially available systems. Overall, this uniaxial cell stretcher provides a more cost-effective alternative to study the effects of mechanical stretch on cells, and can therefore be widely used in research and educational environments to broaden the study and pedagogy of cell mechanobiology.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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