Confocal-microscopy-based three-dimensional (3D) cell-specific finite element (FE) modeling has recently been introduced by our group as a method to simulate the structural behavior of realistic cell geometries under external loading, while considering details of intracellular organelle [1,2]. This method provides comprehensive knowledge regarding cellular mechanics problems, for example, it is useful in the context of understanding the aetiology of deep tissue injury (DTI) — a type of a serious pressure ulcer associated with sustained cellular deformations [3–6]. In this regard, we previously postulated that sustained deformations of soft tissues near bony prominences could cause cell death by a mechanism of locally stretching cells, the consequence of which being that the permeability of the plasma membrane and nuclear surface area (NSA) in the affected cells increases. This, in turn, pathologically changes cell-matrix and intracellular transport profiles and eventually disrupts cellular homeostasis [1,7]. We hypothesize that tensile strains in the plasma membrane and NSA might differ in magnitude and pattern across externally-loaded individual cells of the same cell type, due to cell-to-cell morphological differences. Hence, in this study, we utilize confocal-based cell-specific 3D modeling to analyze tensile strain states in the plasma membrane and NSA of 3 different skeletal muscle cells (myoblasts) subjected to compression. We were specifically interested in chacterizing cell-to-cell variability in magnitudes and patterns of the localized strains.

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