The effect of mechanical loading on cells has aroused a great deal of interest in recent years. It is now widely accepted that mechanical loading is critical for both cell form and function. Although shearing of cells through fluid flow and tensile testing of cells have been widely practiced, there is still a lack of experiments focusing on the effects of controlled pressure and shear loads on cell behavior. The presence of compressive and shear deformations can be seen in a variety of cells ranging from chrondocytes during walking to cardiac myocytes during the cardiac cycle. The aim of our research is to relate the rate and magnitude of shear deformation in addition to applied pressure to issues such as restructuring of the cytoskeleton (i.e. microtubules), alterations in ion release and influx, and changes in cell function. The effects of changing the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) on the cellular response under pressure and shearing are also studied. By observing the effects of combined compression and shear on cells such as chondrocytes and cardiac myocytes, we hope to better understand the causes of diseases like osteoarthritis and congestive heart failure in connection to mechanical loads.

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