The biological functions of encapsulated cells in a fibroblast populated collagen matrix (FPCM) are regulated by the mechanical properties of the surrounding matrix. Studies on the mechanobiology of encapsulated fibroblasts have adopted 3D collagen gels either tethered to a 2D substrate or free-floating as the main platforms. However, these approaches have shortcomings in that the cellular mechanical environment can only be estimated based either on the stiffness of the underlying 2D substrate or on that of the matrix before cell seeding. The real time cellular mechanical environment as the cells undergo physiological or pathological transitions is not accessible. Efforts have been made to culture FPCM into centimeter-scale tensile test specimens for mechanical property evaluation, but the bulky size of these specimens has been shown to be not optimal for biochemical intervention.

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