Osteogenesis is the process by which mesenchymal stem cells differentiate to osteoblasts and form bone. The morphology and root mean squared (RMS) traction of four cell types representing different stages of osteogenesis were quantified. Undifferentiated D1, differentiated D1, MC3T3-E1, and MLO-A5 cell types were evaluated using both automated image analysis of cells stained for F-actin and by traction force microscopy (TFM). Undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cell lines were small, spindly, and exerted low traction, while differentiated osteoblasts were large, had multiple processes, and exerted higher traction. Size, shape, and traction all correlated with the differentiation stage. Thus, cell morphology evolved and RMS traction increased with differentiation. The results provide a foundation for further work with these cell lines to study the mechanobiology of bone formation.

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