Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2017

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Vigmostad, Sarah C

Second Advisor

Lu, Jia

First Committee Member

Henry, Michael D


The objective of this work is to develop an innovative and quantitative method to study cell failure under fluidic pressure to understand cell membrane mechanical properties. Due to lack of experimental data related to cell failure property, the current research focuses on investigating the cell failure using a micro pipette aspiration experiment method to elaborate gradually increasing hydrostatic pressure to the cell causing the membrane to deform and eventually rupture. Based on our observation, the prostate cancer cells (PC-3) deformed into a deflated and flattened shape under higher hydrostatic pressure (249 Pa) while prostate epithelial cells (PrEC LH) cells generate a spherical and rounded shape. The stress along the cell membrane was estimated from the curvature data captured from the 2D microscopic images for each pressure magnitude to quantify the damage before rupture state. From the results, non-transformed prostate epithelial cells (PrEC LH) presented a stiffer and rupture resilient property compared to transformed prostate cancer cells (PC-3) which presented a softer and vulnerable property. Besides, the alteration of shape of the aspirated membrane directly affected the stress distribution over the membrane and as a result, provoked membrane failure. Multiple pieces of research have shown a higher stiffness of healthy cells compared to cancer cells including one of the previous studies done by our group which have also found that cancer cell tends to become stiffer after exposing to fluid shear stress. The discovery of this cellular behavior and novel numerical quantification method of cell failure could advance the study of cancer cell membrane failure, cellular matrix structure, response to mechanical loadings and potentially foundation in developing new treatment for cancer other than destructive chemical treatment.


Cancer cell, Cell failure, Cell Membrane, Curvature, Hydrostatic Pressure, Micropipette Aspiration


xii, 49 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-49).


Copyright © 2017 Yang Wu