Probing the mechanobiological properties of human embryonic stem cells in cardiac differentiation by optical tweezers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Youhua Tan
  • Chi-wing Kong
  • Shuxun Chen
  • Ronald A. Li


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Journal / PublicationJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2012


Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and hESC-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CM) hold great promise for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. However the mechanobiological properties of hESC and hESC-CM remains elusive. In this paper, we examined the dynamic and static micromechanical properties of hESC and hESC-CM, by manipulating via optical tweezers at the single-cell level. Theoretical approaches were developed to model the dynamic and static mechanical responses of cells during optical stretching. Our experiments showed that the mechanical stiffness of differentiated hESC-CM increased after cardiac differentiation. Such stiffening could associate with increasingly organized myofibrillar assembly that underlines the functional characteristics of hESC-CM. In summary, our findings lay the ground work for using hESC-CMs as models to study mechanical and contractile defects in heart diseases. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Biomechanics, Cardiac differentiation, Cell manipulation, Human embryonic stem cell, Optical tweezers