A stretchable cell culture platform in which elastic micropneumatic actuators are embedded has been developed. By using the softlithography of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the platform can be fabricated to any size and shape. It also permits cell culture by using the same standard methods that one would use with a Petri dish and it is transparent, permitting optical inspection of the cells. Thus, the platform is promising for studying cell responses because of mechanical stimulus. In this reported work, cells were cultured on a PDMS diaphragm of the micropneumatic actuators. Owing to input pressure, the micropneumatic actuators swell like a balloon, thereby stretching the cell membranes on the PDMS. The design flexibility of the presented approach is demonstrated by developing two kinds of stretchable platforms with diaphragm diameters of 558 and 24.8 μm to stretch whole and local cell membranes, respectively. Then, the cell membranes attached on the PDMS diaphragms are stretched by applying pressure on the pneumatic actuators. The applied stress causes an increase in the intracellular calcium ion concentration that is a fast cellular mechanotransduction. Therefore, it is concluded that the method for stretching cell membranes can stimulate either whole or local cell membranes, thus showing the potential to be used in in vitro studies of cellular mechanotransduction.
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