Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Qi Wen, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

David Medich, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Germano S. Iannacchione, Committee Member




"In this thesis, a cell traction force microscopy method is developed for measuring traction forces of connective tissue cells. This method includes an improved methodology in traction force microscopy of live cells cultured on an elastic substrate. Tissue cells, such as skin and muscle cells respond to the mechanical stimuli of their microenvironment by adhering to their substrate and exerting forces on the proteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM). These forces are called cell traction forces. Fibroblasts are grown on polyacrylamide (PA) gels embedded with fluorescent beads and coated with different types of ECM ligands. Traction forces of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts are calculated from the measured deformations of PA gels by using a 3-D finite element method. The advantages of this method compared to the traditional methods of cell traction force microscopy (CTFM) are that this method takes into account the finite thickness of the substrate by applying a 3-D FEM analysis to reduce the errors of using an infinite half space approximation for a substrate with a finite thickness and that it uses a novel method for embedding the substrate with fluorescent markers that decreases the measurement uncertainties. In our approach fluorescent beads were embedded on the top of substrate instead of getting mixed with the gel. This decreases the effect of out-of-focus fluorescent beads on the measured deformation fields which enhances the accuracy of cell traction force measurements."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Cell traction force microscopy, hydrogel, fibroblast