University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Regulating tension in three-dimensional culture environments

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Cell Culture Techniques; Cell Differentiation; Cell Movement; Cells, Cultured; Collagen; Extracellular Matrix; Fibrin; Fibroblasts; Humans; Mechanotransduction, Cellular; Tissue Engineering


Biomechanics and Biotransport | Cellular and Molecular Physiology


The processes of development, repair, and remodeling of virtually all tissues and organs, are dependent upon mechanical signals including external loading, cell-generated tension, and tissue stiffness. Over the past few decades, much has been learned about mechanotransduction pathways in specialized two-dimensional culture systems; however, it has also become clear that cells behave very differently in two- and three-dimensional (3D) environments. Three-dimensional in vitro models bring the ability to simulate the in vivo matrix environment and the complexity of cell-matrix interactions together. In this review, we describe the role of tension in regulating cell behavior in three-dimensional collagen and fibrin matrices with a focus on the effective use of global boundary conditions to modulate the tension generated by populations of cells acting in concert. The ability to control and measure the tension in these 3D culture systems has the potential to increase our understanding of mechanobiology and facilitate development of new ways to treat diseased tissues and to direct cell fate in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications.

DOI of Published Version



Exp Cell Res. 2013 Oct 1;319(16):2447-59. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.06.019. Epub 2013 Jul 11. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Experimental cell research

PubMed ID