The cytoskeleton, which is the major mechanical component of cells, supports the cell body and regulates the cellular motility to assist the cell in performing its biological functions. Several cytoskeletal network models have been proposed to investigate the mechanical properties of cells. This review paper summarizes these models with a focus on the prestressed cable network, the semi-flexible chain network, the open-cell foam, the tensegrity, and the granular models. The components, material parameters, types of connection joints, tension conditions, and the advantages and disadvantages of each model are evaluated from a structural and biological point of view. The underlying mechanisms that are associated with the morphological changes of spreading cells are expected to be simulated using a cytoskeletal model; however, it is still paid less attention most likely due to the lack of a suitable cytoskeletal model that can accurately model the spreading process. In this review article, the established cytoskeletal models are hoped to provide useful information for the development of future cytoskeletal models with different degrees of cell attachment for the study of the mechanical mechanisms underlying the cellular behaviors in response to external stimulations.
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