Cells exhibit the ability to sense and respond to local mechanical stimuli, leading to changes in function. This capability,
referred to as mechanotransduction, is essential to normal tissue function, but the exact mechanisms by which cells sense
local forces (strain, shear, compression and vibration) remain unclear. Recent studies in small animals and humans
indicate that the frequency of cyclic mechanical stimuli is important, with physiological responses observed for stimuli
ranging between 1 and 90 Hz. To better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying
mechanotransduction, it will be important to observe cells in real time, using optical microscopy during high-frequency
mechanical stimulation. We have developed a motion-control platform that can produce sinusoidal vibration of live cells
during simultaneous high-speed microscopy and fluorimetry, at frequencies up to 100 Hz with peak acceleration up to
9.8 m s-2. The platform is driven by a voice coil and acceleration is measured with an accelerometer (Dytran 7521A1).
The motion waveform was verified by high-speed imaging, using a digital camera (Casio EX-F1) operating at 1200
frames s-1 attached to an inverted microscope (Nikon Diaphot). When operating at 45 Hz and 2.94 m s-2 peak
acceleration, the observed motion waveform exhibited sinusoidal behaviour, with measured peak-to-peak amplitude of
72 μm. Cultured osteoblast-like cells (UMR-106) were subjected to 2.94 m s-2 vibration at 45 Hz and remained attached
and viable. This device provides - for the first time - the capability to mechanically stimulate living cells while
simultaneously observing responses with optical microscopy.