BRAIn mechaNIcs ACross Scales: Linking microstructure, mechanics and pathology

BRAIn mechaNIcs ACross Scales: Linking microstructure, mechanics and pathology

(Third Party Funds Single)

Overall project:
Project leader:
Project members:
Start date: 1. August 2019
End date: 31. July 2022
Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Emmy-Noether-Programm (EIN-ENP)


The current research project aims to develop microstructurally
motivated mechanical models for brain tissue that facilitate early diagnostics
of neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative diseases and enable the development
of novel treatment strategies. In a first step, we will experimentally
characterize the behavior of brain tissue across scales by using versatile
testing techniques on the same sample. Through an accompanying microstructural
analysis of both cellular and extra-cellular components, we will evaluate the
complex interplay of brain structure, mechanics and function. We will also
experimentally investigate dynamic changes in tissue properties during
development and disease, due to changes in the mechanical environment of cells (mechanosensing),
or external loading. Based on the simultaneous analysis of experimental and
microstructural data, we will develop microstructurally motivated constitutive laws
for the regionally varying mechanical behavior of brain tissue. In addition, we
will develop evolution laws that predict remodeling processes during
development, homeostasis, and disease. Through the implementation within a
finite element framework, we will simulate the behavior of brain tissue under
physiological and pathological conditions. We will predict how known biological
processes on the cellular scale, such as changes in the tissue’s
microstructure, translate into morphological changes on the macroscopic scale,
which are easily detectable through modern imaging techniques. We will analyze
progression of disease or mechanically-induced loss of brain function. The novel
experimental procedures on the borderline of mechanics and biology, together
with comprehensive theoretical and computational models, will form the
cornerstone for predictive simulations that improve early diagnostics of pathological
conditions, advance medical treatment strategies, and reduce the necessity of
animal and human tissue experimentation. The established methodology will further
open new pathways in the biofabrication of artificial organs.