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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Viscoelastic behaviour of human mesenchymal stem cells

Samuel CW Tan1, Wen X Pan2, Gang Ma2, Ning Cai1, Kam W Leong34 and Kin Liao1*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Bioengineering, School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637457, Singapore

2 Biomedical Engineering Research Center, School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637553, Singapore

3 Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, Singapore 169547, Singapore

4 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2008, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-9-40

Published: 22 July 2008



In this study, we have investigated the viscoelastic behaviour of individual human adult bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and the role of F-actin filaments in maintaining these properties, using micropipette aspiration technique together with a standard linear viscoelastic solid model.


Under a room temperature of 20°C, the instantaneous and equilibrium Young's modulus, E0 and E, were found to be 886 ± 289 Pa and 372 ± 125 Pa, respectively, while the apparent viscosity, μ, was 2710 ± 1630 Pa·s. hMSCs treated with cytochalasin D up to 20 μM at 20°C registered significant drop of up to 84% in stiffness and increase of up to 255% in viscosity. At the physiological temperature of 37°C, E0 and Ehave decreased by 42–66% whereas μ has increased by 95%, compared to the control. Majority of the hMSCs behave as viscoelastic solid with a rapid initial increase in aspiration length and it gradually levels out with time. Three other types of non-typical viscoelastic behavior of hMSCs were also seen.


hMSCs behave as viscoelastic solid. Its viscoelstic behaviour are dependent on the structural integrity of the F-actin filaments and temperature.