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In Vivo Multiscale and Spatially-Dependent Biomechanics Reveals Differential Strain Transfer Hierarchy in Skeletal Muscle

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journal contribution
posted on 17.02.2017 by Soham Ghosh, James G. Cimino, Adrienne K. Scott, Frederick W. Damen, Evan H. Phillips, Alexander I. Veress, Corey P. Neu, Craig J. Goergen
Biological tissues have a complex hierarchical architecture that spans organ to subcellular scales and comprises interconnected biophysical and biochemical machinery. Mechanotransduction, gene regulation, gene protection, and structure–function relationships in tissues depend on how force and strain are modulated from macro to microscales, and vice versa. Traditionally, computational and experimental techniques have been used in common model systems (e.g., embryos), and simple strain measures were applied. However, the hierarchical transfer of mechanical parameters like strain in mammalian systems is largely unexplored in vivo. Here, we experimentally probed complex strain transfer processes in mammalian skeletal muscle tissue over multiple biological scales using complementary in vivo ultrasound and optical imaging approaches. An iterative hyperelastic warping technique quantified the spatially dependent strain distributions in tissue, matrix, and subcellular (nuclear) structures, and revealed a surprising increase in strain magnitude and heterogeneity in active muscle as the spatial scale also increased. The multiscale strain heterogeneity indicates tight regulation of mechanical signals to the nuclei of individual cells in active muscle and an emergent behavior appearing at larger (e.g., tissue) scales characterized by dramatically increased strain complexity.