Constitutive material modeling of cell: a micromechanics approach. Academic Article uri icon


  • The variations in mechanical properties of cells obtained from experimental and theoretical studies can be overcome only through the development of a sound mathematical framework correlating the derived mechanical property with the cellular structure. Such a formulation accounting for the inhomogeneity of the cytoplasm due to stress fibers and actin cortex is developed in this work. The proposed model is developed using the Mori-Tanaka method of homogenization by treating the cell as a fiber-reinforced composite medium satisfying the continuum hypothesis. The validation of the constitutive model using finite element analysis on atomic force microscopy (AFM) and magnetic twisting cytometry (MTC) has been carried out and is found to yield good correlation with reported experimental results. It is observed from the study that as the volume fraction of the stress fiber increases, the stiffness of the cell increases and it alters the force displacement behavior for the AFM and MTC experiments. Through this model, we have also been able to find the stress fiber as a likely cause of the differences in the derived mechanical property from the AFM and MTC experiments. The correlation of the mechanical behavior of the cell with the cell composition, as obtained through this study, is an important observation in cell mechanics.

published proceedings

  • J Biomech Eng

author list (cited authors)

  • Unnikrishnan, G. U., Unnikrishnan, V. U., & Reddy, J. N.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Unnikrishnan, GU||Unnikrishnan, VU||Reddy, JN

publication date

  • June 2007