The relationship between cell and tissue strain in three-dimensional bio-artificial tissues

J. Pablo Marquez, Guy M. Genin, George I. Zahalak, Elliot L. Elson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Continuum constitutive laws are needed to ensure that bio-artificial tissue constructs replicate the mechanical response of the tissues they replace, and to understand how the constituents of these constructs contribute to their overall mechanical response. One model designed to achieve both of these aims is the Zahalak model, which was modified by Marquez and co-workers to incorporate inhomogeneous strain fields within very thin tissues. When applied to reinterpret previous measurements, the modified Zahalak model predicted higher values of the continuum stiffness of fibroblasts than earlier estimates. In this work, we further modify the Zahalak model to account for inhomogeneous strain fields in constructs whose cell orientations have a significant out-of-plane component. When applied to reinterpret results from the literature, the new model shows that estimates of continuum cell stiffness might need to be revised upward. As in this article's companion, we updated the average cell strain by defining a correction factor ("strain factor"), based upon the elastic response. Three different cell orientation distributions were studied. We derived an approximate scaling model for the strain factor, and validated it against exact and self-consistent (mean-field) solutions from the literature for dilute cell concentrations, and Monte Carlo simulations involving three-dimensional finite element analyses for high cell concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-789
Number of pages12
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


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