Time-dependent changes in smooth muscle cell stiffness and focal adhesion area in response to cyclic equibiaxial stretch. Academic Article uri icon


  • Observations from diverse studies on cell biomechanics and mechanobiology reveal that altered mechanical stimuli can induce significant changes in cytoskeletal organization, focal adhesion complexes, and overall mechanical properties. To investigate effects of short-term equibiaxial stretching on the transverse stiffness of and remodeling of focal adhesions in vascular smooth muscle cells, we developed a cell-stretching device that can be combined with both atomic force and confocal microscopy. Results demonstrate that cyclic 10%, but not 5%, equibiaxial stretching at 0.25 Hz significantly and rapidly alters both cell stiffness and focal adhesion associated paxillin and vinculin. Moreover, measured changes in stiffness and focal adhesion area from baseline values tend to correlate well over the durations of stretching studied. It is suggested that remodeling of focal adhesions plays a critical role in regulating cell stiffness by recruiting and anchoring actin filaments, and that cells rapidly remodel in an attempt to maintain a homeostatic biomechanical state when perturbed above a threshold value.

published proceedings

  • Ann Biomed Eng

author list (cited authors)

  • Na, S., Trache, A., Trzeciakowski, J., Sun, Z., Meininger, G. A., & Humphrey, J. D.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Na, S||Trache, A||Trzeciakowski, J||Sun, Z||Meininger, GA||Humphrey, JD

publication date

  • January 2008