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Yannas, Ioannis, and Myron Spector, HST.523J Cell-Matrix Mechanics, Spring 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Cell-Matrix Mechanics

Spring 2004

Cutaway detail diagram on skeletal bone.
Skeletal bone is one of the cell-matrix structures studied in this class. (Figure by MIT OCW.)

Course Highlights

This course features a full set of lecture slides.

Course Description

Mechanical forces play a decisive role during development of tissues and organs, during remodeling following injury as well as in normal function. A stress field influences cell function primarily through deformation of the extracellular matrix to which cells are attached. Deformed cells express different biosynthetic activity relative to undeformed cells. The unit cell process paradigm combined with topics in connective tissue mechanics form the basis for discussions of several topics from cell biology, physiology, and medicine.


Course Topics

  • Response of cells and tissues to exogenous mechanical loading.
  • Endogenous mechanical forces generated by cells (viz., contractile forces generated by connective tissue cells).
  • Molecular structure-mechanical properties relationships for selected connective tissues.
    • Chemical composition of the extracellular matrix of tissues.
    • Structure of tissues (viz., connective tissues) at the nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter length scales (including the hierarchical structure of tissues).
    • Load-deformation behavior of tissues at the micrometer and millimeter scales.

  • Interrelationships among the above.

Unique Aspects of the Subject

  • Assessment of the response of cells and tissues to mechanical forces; discussion of mechano-transduction mechanisms.
  • Discussion of contraction of connective tissue cells.

Course Textbook

 Yannas, I. V. Tissue and Organ Regeneration in Adults. New York, NY: Springer, 2001. ISBN: 9780387952147.

This book is supplemented by papers, presentations and readings.


The course grade is based entirely on the three quizzes.


I. Unit Cell Processes and Mechanics of Matrix Molecules and Tissues Structures
1 Clinical Examples of the Roles of Mechanical Forces in Tissues and Organs: The Working Paradigms Prof. Spector  
2 Tissue Structures and Unit Cell Processes Prof. Spector  
3 Cell-Matrix Interactions: Extracellular Matrix Molecules, Adhesion Proteins and Integrins Prof. Spector  
4 Models for the Mechanical Behavior of Porous Scaffolds Prof. L. Gibson Homework 1 due
5 Structure-Properties Relationships for Tissues Prof. Spector  
6 Mechanics of Selected Tissues Prof. S. Socrate  
II. Mechanics of Cells: Effects of Exogenous Forces and Endogenous Force Generation
7 Effects of Exogenous Mechanical Forces on Cells Prof. Spector Homework 2 due
8 Response of Cells to Substrate Strain Prof. Spector  
9 Endothelial Cell Response to Flow Prof. C. F. Dewey  
10 Quiz 1    
11 Measuring Cell Contraction

Cell Force Monitor
Brendan Harley  
12 Endogenous Mechanical Force Generation by Cells Prof. Spector  
13 Models for Cell Contraction In Vitro and In Vivo Prof. Spector  
14 Mechanical Coupling of Cells with Matrix Prof. Yannas  
15 Cell-matrix Interactions During Wound Closure Prof. Yannas  
16 Blockade of Contraction During Induced Organ Regeneration Prof. Yannas  
17 Review Prof. Spector  
18 Quiz 2    
III. Tissue Mechanics
19 Review of Principles of Linear Elastic Mechanics Prof. Yannas  
20 Nonlinear Elasticity: Tendon and Skin Prof. Yannas  
21 Linear Viscoelastic Behavior Prof. Yannas  
22 Response of Articular Cartilage to Mechanical Loading Prof. A. Grodzinsky  
23 Mechanical Behavior of Ligament, Meniscus and Intervertebral Disc Prof. Spector  
24 Mechanical Behavior of Bone Prof. Spector Homework 3 due
25 Response of Bone to Mechanical Loading

Prof. Spector  
26 Quiz 3   Tell A Friend