Computation of adherent cell elasticity for critical cell-bead geometry in magnetic twisting experiments

Jacques Ohayon, Philippe Tracqui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Quantification of the cell elastic modulus is a central issue of micromanipulation techniques used to analyze the mechanical properties of living adherent cells. In magnetic twisting cytometry (MTC), magnetic beads of radius R, linked to the cell cytoskeleton through transmembrane receptors, are twisted. The relationships between imposed external torque and measured resulting bead rotation or translation only provide values of the apparent cell stiffness. Thus, specific correcting coefficients have to be considered in order to derive the cell elastic modulus. This issue has been highlighted in previous studies, but general relationships for handling such corrections are still lacking while they could help to understand and reduce the large dispersion of the reported values of cell elastic modulus. Thiswork establishes generalized abacuses of the correcting coefficients from which the Young's modulus of a cell probed byMTCcan be derived. Based on a 3Dfinite element analysis of an hyperelastic (neo-Hookean) cell, we show that the dimensionless ratio hu/2R, where hu is the cell height below the bead, is an essential parameter for quantification of the cell elasticity. This result could partly explain the still intriguing question of the large variation of measured elastic moduli with probe size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Cell stiffness
  • Correcting coefficients
  • Cytomechanical model
  • Finite element method
  • Magnetic twisting cytometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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