Mechanical behavior of human embryonic stem cell pellet under unconfined compression

Gang Ma, Erik Petersen, Kam W. Leong, Kin Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


As a prelude to the understanding of mechanotransduction in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) differentiation, the mechanical behavior of hESCs in the form of cell pellet is studied. The pellets were tested after 3 or 5weeks of cell culture in order to demonstrate the effect of the duration of cell culture on themechanical properties of the pellets.Amicromechanical testerwas used to conduct unconfined compression on hESC pellet, and experimental, numerical, and analytical methods were combined to determine the mechanical properties of hESC pellet. It is assumed that the mechanical behavior of hESC pellets can be described by an isotropic, linear viscoelastic model consisting of a spring and two Maxwell units in parallel, and the Poisson's ratio of the hESC pellet is constant based on pellet deformation in the direction perpendicular to the compression direction. Finite element method (FEM) simulation was adopted to determine the values of Poisson's ratio and the five parameters contained in the viscoelastic model. The variations of Poisson's ratio and the initial elastic modulus are found to be larger compared with those of the four other parameters. Results show that longer duration of cell culture leads to higher modulus of hESC pellet. The effect of pellet size error on the values of mechanical parameters determined is studied using FEM simulation, and it is found that the effect of size error on Poisson's ratio and initial elastic modulus is much larger than that on the other parameters.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)703-714
Number of pages12
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Finite element method simulation
  • Human embryonic stem cell pellet
  • Poisson's ratio
  • Unconfined compression
  • Viscoelastic model


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