Lab-on-a-chip based mechanical actuators and sensors for single-cell and organoid culture studies

Jaan Männik, Tetsuhiko F. Teshima, Bernhard Wolfrum, Da Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


All living cells constantly experience and respond to mechanical stresses. The molecular networks that activate in cells in response to mechanical stimuli are yet not well-understood. Our limited knowledge stems partially from the lack of available tools that are capable of exerting controlled mechanical stress to individual cells and at the same time observing their responses at subcellular to molecular resolution. Several tools such as rheology setups, micropipetes, and magnetic tweezers have been used in the past. While allowing to quantify short-time viscoelastic responses, these setups are not suitable for long-term observations of cells and most of them have low throughput. In this Perspective, we discuss lab-on-a-chip platforms that have the potential to overcome these limitations. Our focus is on devices that apply shear, compressive, tensile, and confinement derived stresses to single cells and organoid cultures. We compare different design strategies for these devices and highlight their advantages, drawbacks, and future potential. While the majority of these devices are used for fundamental research, some of them have potential applications in medical diagnostics and these applications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number210905
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - 7 Jun 2021


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