Chapter: Techniques to Study Mechanobiology

Lying at the intersection between engineering and biology, mechanobiology is a nascent field of study that investigates adaptation of the structure and behavior of tissues in response to mechanical loading. While mechanobiology has been implicated in a range of diseases and evidence of its effects is strewn across multiple scales, it is ultimately a cell-driven process arising in response to changes in local mechanical stimulation. Therefore, the field presents unique challenges to researchers, necessitating techniques to shed light on complex biophysical interactions. While bioreactors, tissue engineering, and animal models are utilized at organ and tissue scales, advanced microscopy and protein analysis techniques are required to capture localized responses to mechanical stimuli at the cellular and molecular scale. Additionally, computational techniques enable calculation of these localized mechanical stimuli and linking of these stimuli across multiple scales. This chapter was co-authored with Dr Eimear Dolan and Dr Rebecca Rolfe, and describes in detail a range of techniques relevant to the study of mechanobiology.