Tensile testing of cell sheets: an experimental approach
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is one of the most important regulators of tissue homeostasis and one of the key elements in bioengineering human tissue models for studying the tissue's environmental milieu. Cell sheet engineering is a technology that relies on cells as the only producers of ECM faithfully recreating their native 3D microenvironment . However, Cell sheet (bio)-mechanics characterization remains poorly explored. Tensile testing is the most common approach to estimate the bulk mechanical properties, but it requires a firm attachment of the sample edges, which is a problem due to the fragility of the cell sheets. Moreover, a compromise between appropriate grips and clamping force is required to keep the sample’s edges integrity and reduce slippage. Thus, this work proposes the development of an experimental setup comprising a mechanical testing prototype relying on customized 3D printed grips and racks, and the validation of its efficacy using human fibroblast cell sheets.