Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Michael Jaffe

Second Advisor

Bryan J. Pfister

Third Advisor

Treena Livingston Arinzeh

Fourth Advisor

Bozena B. Michniak

Fifth Advisor

Norman K. Richardson


The main objective of this thesis is to understand, from a molecular perspective, the morphological and functional abnormalities of human dermal fibroblasts as a response to deformation produced by a normal force that can lead to the potential formation of stretch marks in pregnant women, adolescents, and people with Cushing's syndrome. The main function of dermal fibroblasts is to produce the essential fibrous components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the skin.

In order to study the mechanism of stretch mark formation, neonatal human dermal fibroblasts were seeded on a silicon membrane for controlled deformation. Upon reaching a confluence of 40-70%, they were multi-axially stretched using a device designed specifically for this thesis. A total of three samples were analyzed; two samples were exposed to 20% static strain for a time period of one hour and one sample for 24 hours. The cells presented severe morphological changes after stretching the membrane. They acquired a rounded morphology with unclear cytoplasm and nucleus. Also, the cells started to move throughout the membrane.

It has been shown that dermal fibroblasts show significant morphological changes when subjected to deformation. The observed changes are a result of total strain. Future experiments will focus on improving the device for longer periods of cell deformation and for protein synthesis.



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