Monitoring the biomechanical response of individual cells under compression: A new compression device
Skeletal muscle cells are sensitive to sustained compression, which can lead to the development of pressure sores. Although it is known that this type of tissue breakdown depends on the magnitude and duration of the applied load, the exact relationship between cell deformation and damage remains unclear. To gain more insight into this process, a method has been developed, that incorporates the use of a new loading device and confocal microscopy. The loading device is able to compress individual cells, either statically or dynamically, while measuring the resulting forces. Experiments can be performed under ideal environmental conditions, comparable with those of a CO2 incubator. First compression experiments on C2C12 mouse myoblasts showed the shape changes that cells undergo during static compression by the loading device. Calculations using the three-dimensional confocal images showed no change in volume and an increase in the surface area of the cell as a result of compression. The device presented here provides a useful way to monitor the biomechanical response of skeletal muscle cells during long-term compression experiments. Therefore it will contribute to the knowledge about strain-induced cell damage, as seen in pressure sores and other mechanically induced clinical conditions.
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