Evolution of Bioengineered Lung Models: Recent Advances and Challenges in Tissue Mimicry for Studying the Role of Mechanical Forces in Cell Biology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Mechanical stretch under both physiological (breathing) and pathophysiological (ventilator-induced) conditions is known to significantly impact all cellular compartments in the lung, thereby playing a pivotal role in lung growth, regeneration and disease development. In order to evaluate the impact of mechanical forces on the cellular level, in vitro models using lung cells on stretchable membranes have been developed. Only recently have some of these cell-stretching devices become suitable for air–liquid interface cell cultures, which is required to adequately model physiological conditions for the alveolar epithelium. To reach this goal, a multi-functional membrane for cell growth balancing biophysical and mechanical properties is critical to mimic (patho)physiological conditions. In this review, i) the relevance of cyclic mechanical forces in lung biology is elucidated, ii) the physiological range for the key parameters of tissue stretch in the lung is described, and iii) the currently available in vitro cell-stretching devices are discussed. After assessing various polymers, it is concluded that natural-synthetic copolymers are promising candidates for suitable stretchable membranes used in cell-stretching models. This work provides guidance on future developments in biomimetic in vitro models of the lung with the potential to function as a template for other organ models (e.g., skin, vessels).


External organisations
  • German Center for Lung Research (DZL)
  • Helmholtz Zentrum München
  • World Orthopaedic Concern
  • Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
  • University Hospital Munich
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biomedical Laboratory Science/Technology


  • air–liquid interface cell culture, alveolar-capillary barrier, in vitro cell-stretching model, porous ultra-thin scaffolds, tunable polymeric membranes
Original languageEnglish
Article number1903114
Number of pages20
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch