Cells communicate with each other through biochemical and electrical mechanisms employing various autocrine and endocrine signaling pathways. Cells, and cardiomyocytes in particular, generate contractile forces on the substrates (or tissues) they adhere to. This results in a tensile strain field in the substrate around the contractile cell. As a result, nearby cells adhered to the same substrate get stretched. The effect of this long range communication has received limited attention to date. Here we develop an elastic cell culture substrate to explore strain mediated coupling in cardiomyocytes. We investigate (1) whether strain coupling of isolated cardiomyocytes affects the temporal dynamics of contractility, (2) whether such long range communication can enable synchrony in cardiomyocyte beating, and (3) what is the biophysical mechanism enabling strain induced coupling? Initial experiments show that strain coupled populations of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes can synchronize their beating with time. We hypothesize that the contraction of one cell cluster results in calcium influx in the coupled cell cluster via stretch sensitive ion channels. We utilize an integrate-and-fire oscillator model with strain induced coupling to predict the emergence of synchrony between cardiomyocytes. This finding may shed light on cardiac arrhythmias in stiffened, infarcted cardiac tissues where strain coupling may be compromised.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMechanics of Biological Systems and Materials - Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Conference on Experimental and Applied Mechanics
EditorsChad S. Korach, Srinivasan Arjun Tekalur, Pablo Zavattieri
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9783319214542
StatePublished - 2016
EventSEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics, 2015 - Costa Mesa, United States
Duration: Jun 8 2015Jun 11 2015

Publication series

NameConference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series
ISSN (Print)2191-5644
ISSN (Electronic)2191-5652


OtherSEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics, 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCosta Mesa


  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Oscillators
  • PIV
  • Strain-coupling
  • Synchronization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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