Employing Nanostructured Scaffolds to Investigate the Mechanical Properties of Adult Mammalian Retinae Under Tension.
Numerous eye diseases are linked to biomechanical dysfunction of the retina. However, the underlying forces are almost impossible to quantify experimentally. Here, we show how biomechanical properties of adult neuronal tissues such as porcine retinae can be investigated under tension in a home-built tissue stretcher composed of nanostructured TiO2 scaffolds coupled to a self-designed force sensor. The employed TiO2 nanotube scaffolds allow for organotypic long-term preservation of adult tissues ex vivo and support strong tissue adhesion without the application of glues, a prerequisite for tissue investigations under tension. In combination with finite element calculations we found that the deformation behavior is highly dependent on the displacement rate which results in Young's moduli of (760-1270) Pa. Image analysis revealed that the elastic regime is characterized by a reversible shear deformation of retinal layers. For larger deformations, tissue destruction and sliding of retinal layers occurred with an equilibration between slip and stick at the interface of ruptured layers, resulting in a constant force during stretching. Since our study demonstrates how porcine eyes collected from slaughterhouses can be employed for ex vivo experiments, our study also offers new perspectives to investigate tissue biomechanics without excessive animal experiments.