Progress in integrative biomaterial systems to approach three-dimensional cell mechanotransduction

Ying Zhang, Kin Liao, Chuan Li, Alvin C.K. Lai, Ji Jinn Foo*, Vincent Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Mechanotransduction between cells and the extracellular matrix regulates major cellular functions in physiological and pathological situations. The effect of mechanical cues on biochemical signaling triggered by cell–matrix and cell–cell interactions on model biomimetic surfaces has been extensively investigated by a combination of fabrication, biophysical, and biological methods. To simulate the in vivo physiological microenvironment in vitro, three dimensional (3D) microstructures with tailored bio-functionality have been fabricated on substrates of various materials. However, less attention has been paid to the design of 3D biomaterial systems with geometric variances, such as the possession of precise micro-features and/or bio-sensing elements for probing the mechanical responses of cells to the external microenvironment. Such precisely engineered 3D model experimental platforms pave the way for studying the mechanotransduction of multicellular aggregates under controlled geometric and mechanical parameters. Concurrently with the progress in 3D biomaterial fabrication, cell traction force microscopy (CTFM) developed in the field of cell biophysics has emerged as a highly sensitive technique for probing the mechanical stresses exerted by cells onto the opposing deformable surface. In the current work, we first review the recent advances in the fabrication of 3D micropatterned biomaterials which enable the seamless integration with experimental cell mechanics in a controlled 3D microenvironment. Then, we discuss the role of collective cell–cell interactions in the mechanotransduction of engineered tissue equivalents determined by such integrative biomaterial systems under simulated physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • 3D tissue mechanics
  • Cell traction force microscopy
  • Cell-cell interactions
  • Cell-matrix interactions
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Soft lithography


Dive into the research topics of 'Progress in integrative biomaterial systems to approach three-dimensional cell mechanotransduction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this