Physical cues from cellular external environment, especially substrate stiffness, have gradually been recognized as key factors that could mediate some cell behaviors and its physiological processes. In this study, atomic force microscopy was used to investigate the influence of substrate stiffness on cellular mechanical properties, which were regarded as potential indicators for early detection of tumor. Our results showed that the viscoelasticity of breast cancer cells was significantly lower than that of breast epithelial cells in the hard substrate, while the viscoelasticity of ovarian cancer cells did not change with substrate change. It can be seen that substrate stiffness indeed plays an important role in the development of tumor, which could be attribute to its regulation of the cellular mechanical properties.
Cellular mechanical properties are an important indicator for assessing and analyzing the functions of cells. However, the structure and compositions of the cell are complex. In order to analyze the effects of different components on the mechanical properties of cells, a multi-structured 3D model of cancer cells considering the cytoskeleton, cytoplasm, nucleus and cell membrane was established by finite element method. And the tensegrity structure-finding algorithm was used to analyze the cytoskeletal distribution and the pre-stress of each component. First, the model was verified by comparing numerical results with force-indentation curve obtained by atomic force microscopy in Ho-8910 cells. Then, the elasticity modulus of cell were obtained via applying a load to the established model.Computational simulation showed that cytoskeleton are the major component targeted in resisting compression.In addition, this model can provide useful guidance for the measurement and analysis of single cell through atomic force microscopy.