Design and construction of a uniaxial cell stretcher

Michael J. Yost, David Simpson, Kimberly Wrona, Stephen Ridley, Harry J. Ploehn, Thomas K. Borg, Louis Terracio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In vitro mechanical cell stimulators are used for the study of the effect of mechanical stimulation on anchorage-dependent cells. We developed a new mechanical cell stimulator, which uses stepper motor technology and computer control to achieve a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. This device also uses high-performance plastic components that have been shown to be noncytotoxic, dimensionally stable, and resistant to chemical degradation from common culture laboratory chemicals. We show that treatment with glow discharge for 25 s at 20 mA is sufficient to modify the surface of the rubber to allow proper adhesion for polymerization of aligned collagen. We show through finite element analysis that the middle area of the membrane, away from the clamped ends, is predictable, homogeneous, and has negligible shear strain. To test the efficacy of the mechanical stretch, we examined the effect of mechanical stimulation on the production of β1-integrin by neonatal rat cardiac fibroblasts. Mechanical stimulation was tested in the range of 0-12% stretch and 0-10-cycles/min stretch frequency. The fibroblasts respond with an increase in β1 integrin at 3% stretch and a decrease at 6 and 12% stretch. Stretch frequency was found to not significantly effect the concentration of β1-integrin. These studies yield a new and improved mechanical cell stimulator and demonstrate that mechanical stimulation has an effect on the expression of β1-integrin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H3124-H3130
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 48-6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Fibroblasts
  • Integrins
  • Mechanical cell stimulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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