Live cell imaging during mechanical stretch

Gabriel Rápalo, Josh D. Herwig, Robert Hewitt, Kristina R. Wilhelm, Christopher M. Waters, Esra Roan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


There is currently a significant interest in understanding how cells and tissues respond to mechanical stimuli, but current approaches are limited in their capability for measuring responses in real time in live cells or viable tissue. A protocol was developed with the use of a cell actuator to distend live cells grown on or tissues attached to an elastic substrate while imaging with confocal and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Preliminary studies show that tonic stretching of human bronchial epithelial cells caused a significant increase in the production of mitochondrial superoxide. Moreover, using this protocol, alveolar epithelial cells were stretched and imaged, which showed direct damage to the epithelial cells by overdistention simulating one form of lung injury in vitro. A protocol to conduct AFM nano-indentation on stretched cells is also provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52737
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number102
StatePublished - Aug 19 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Journal of Visualized Experiments.


  • Acute lung injury
  • Bioengineering
  • Bioreactor
  • Mechanobiology
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Overdistention
  • Pulmonary epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)


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