Integration of biophysical stimulation in test systems is established in diverse branches of biomedical sciences including toxicology. This is largely motivated by the need to create novel experimental setups capable of reproducing more closely in vivo physiological conditions. Indeed, we face the need to increase predictive power and experimental output, albeit reducing the use of animals in toxicity testing. In vivo, mechanical stimulation is essential for cellular homeostasis. In vitro, diverse strategies can be used to model this crucial component. The compliance of the extracellular matrix can be tuned by modifying the stiffness or through the deformation of substrates hosting the cells via static or dynamic strain. Moreover, cells can be cultivated under shear stress deriving from the movement of the extracellular fluids. In turn, introduction of physical cues in the cell culture environment modulates differentiation, functional properties, and metabolic competence, thus influencing cellular capability to cope with toxic insults. This review summarizes the state of the art of integration of biophysical stimuli in model systems for toxicity testing, discusses future challenges, and provides perspectives for the further advancement of in vitro cytotoxicity studies.
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