Energy-Mediated Machinery Drives Cellular Mechanical Allostasis

Qianbin Wang, Weiyi Qian, Xiaoyu Xu, Apratim Bajpai, Kevin Guan, Zijing Zhang, Roy Chen, Vittoria Flamini, Weiqiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allostasis is a fundamental biological process through which living organisms achieve stability via physiological or behavioral changes to protect against internal and external stresses, and ultimately better adapt to the local environment. However, an full understanding of cellular-level allostasis is far from developed. By employing an integrated micromechanical tool capable of applying controlled mechanical stress on an individual cell and simultaneously reporting dynamic information of subcellular mechanics, individual cell allostasis is observed to occur through a biphasic process; cellular mechanics tends to restore to a stable state through a mechanoadaptative process with excitative biophysical activity followed by a decaying adaptive phase. Based on these observations, it is found that cellular allostasis occurs through a complex balance of subcellular energy and cellular mechanics; upon a transient and local physical stimulation, cells trigger an allostatic state that maximizes energy and overcomes a mechanical “energy barrier” followed by a relaxation state that reaches its mechanobiological stabilization and energy minimization. Discoveries of energy-driven cellular machinery and conserved mechanotransductive pathways underscore the critical role of force-sensitive cytoskeleton equilibrium in cellular allostasis. This highlight the biophysical origin of cellular mechanical allostasis, providing subcellular methods to understand the etiology and progression of certain diseases or aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1900453
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • CSK tension
  • allostatic adaptation
  • cellular mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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