The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
The forces exerted by cells on their surroundings play an integral role in both physiological processes and disease progression. Traction force microscopy is a noninvasive technique that enables the in vitro imaging and quantification of cell forces. Utilizing expertise from a variety of disciplines, recent developments in traction force microscopy are enhancing the study of cell forces in physiologically relevant model systems, and hold promise for further advancing knowledge in mechanobiology. In this chapter, we discuss the methods, capabilities, and limitations of modern approaches for traction force microscopy, and highlight ongoing efforts and challenges underlying future innovations.
A defining hallmark of cancer and cancer development is upregulated angiogenesis. The vasculature formed in tumors is structurally abnormal, not organized in the conventional hierarchical arrangement, and more permeable than normal vasculature. These features contribute to leaky, tortuous, and dilated blood vessels, which act to create heterogeneous blood flow, compression of vessels, and elevated interstitial fluid pressure. As such, abnormalities in the tumor vasculature not only affect the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the tumor, but also contribute to creating an abnormal tumor microenvironment that further promotes tumorigenesis. The role of chemical signaling events in mediating tumor angiogenesis has been well researched; however, the relative contribution of physical cues and mechanical regulation of tumor angiogenesis is less understood. Growing research indicates that the physical microenvironment plays a significant role in tumor progression and promoting abnormal tumor vasculature. Here, we review how mechanical cues found in the tumor microenvironment promote aberrant tumor angiogenesis. Specifically, we discuss the influence of matrix stiffness and mechanical stresses in tumor tissue on tumor vasculature, as well as the mechanosensory pathways utilized by endothelial cells to respond to the physical cues found in the tumor microenvironment. We also discuss the impact of the resulting aberrant tumor vasculature on tumor progression and therapeutic treatment.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW - While thinning of the cortices or trabeculae weakens bone, age-related changes in matrix composition also lower fracture resistance. This review summarizes how the organic matrix, mineral phase, and water compartments influence the mechanical behavior of bone, thereby identifying characteristics important to fracture risk.
RECENT FINDINGS - In the synthesis of the organic matrix, tropocollagen experiences various post-translational modifications that facilitate a highly organized fibril of collagen I with a preferred orientation giving bone extensibility and several toughening mechanisms. Being a ceramic, mineral is brittle but increases the strength of bone as its content within the organic matrix increases. With time, hydroxyapatite-like crystals experience carbonate substitutions, the consequence of which remains to be understood. Water participates in hydrogen bonding with organic matrix and in electrostatic attractions with mineral phase, thereby providing stability to collagen-mineral interface and ductility to bone. Clinical tools sensitive to age- and disease-related changes in matrix composition that the affect mechanical behavior of bone could potentially improve fracture risk assessment.
Cell contraction regulates how cells sense their mechanical environment. We sought to identify the set-point of cell contraction, also referred to as tensional homeostasis. In this work, bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs), cultured on substrates with different stiffness, were characterized using traction force microscopy (TFM). Numerical models were developed to provide insights into the mechanics of cell-substrate interactions. Cell contraction was modeled as eigenstrain which could induce isometric cell contraction without external forces. The predicted traction stresses matched well with TFM measurements. Furthermore, our numerical model provided cell stress and displacement maps for inspecting the fundamental regulating mechanism of cell mechanosensing. We showed that cell spread area, traction force on a substrate, as well as the average stress of a cell were increased in response to a stiffer substrate. However, the cell average strain, which is cell type-specific, was kept at the same level regardless of the substrate stiffness. This indicated that the cell average strain is the tensional homeostasis that each type of cell tries to maintain. Furthermore, cell contraction in terms of eigenstrain was found to be the same for both BAECs and fibroblast cells in different mechanical environments. This implied a potential mechanical set-point across different cell types. Our results suggest that additional measurements of contractility might be useful for monitoring cell mechanosensing as well as dynamic remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM). This work could help to advance the understanding of the cell-ECM relationship, leading to better regenerative strategies.
BACKGROUND - Human saphenous veins used for arterial bypass undergo stretch injury at the time of harvest and preimplant preparation. Vascular injury promotes intimal hyperplasia, the leading cause of graft failure, but the molecular events leading to this response are largely unknown. This study investigated adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as a potential molecular mediator in the vascular response to stretch injury, and the downstream effects of the purinergic receptor, P2X7R, and p38 MAPK activation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - A subfailure stretch rat aorta model was used to determine the effect of stretch injury on release of ATP and vasomotor responses. Stretch-injured tissues were treated with apyrase, the P2X7R antagonist, A438079, or the p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, and subsequent contractile forces were measured using a muscle bath. An exogenous ATP (eATP) injury model was developed and the experiment repeated. Change in p38 MAPK phosphorylation after stretch and eATP tissue injury was determined using Western blotting. Noninjured tissue was incubated in the p38 MAPK activator, anisomycin, and subsequent contractile function and p38 MAPK phosphorylation were analyzed.
RESULTS - Stretch injury was associated with release of ATP. Contractile function was decreased in tissue subjected to subfailure stretch, eATP, and anisomycin. Contractile function was restored by apyrase, P2X7R antagonism, and p38-MAPK inhibition. Stretch, eATP, and anisomycin-injured tissue demonstrated increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK.
CONCLUSIONS - Taken together, these data suggest that the vascular response to stretch injury is associated with release of ATP and activation of the P2X7R/P38 MAPK pathway, resulting in contractile dysfunction. Modulation of this pathway in vein grafts after harvest and before implantation may reduce the vascular response to injury.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Basement membranes (BMs), a specialized form of extracellular matrix, underlie nearly all cell layers and provide structural support for tissues and interact with cell surface receptors to determine cell behavior. Both macromolecular composition and stiffness of the BM influence cell-BM interactions. Collagen IV is a major constituent of the BM that forms an extensively cross-linked oligomeric network. Its deficiency leads to BM mechanical instability, as observed with glomerular BM in Alport syndrome. These findings have led to the hypothesis that collagen IV and its cross-links determine BM stiffness. A sulfilimine bond (S = N) between a methionine sulfur and a lysine nitrogen cross-links collagen IV and is formed by the matrix enzyme peroxidasin. In peroxidasin knockout mice with reduced collagen IV sulfilimine cross-links, we find a reduction in renal tubular BM stiffness. Thus this work provides the first direct experimental evidence that collagen IV sulfilimine cross-links contribute to BM mechanical properties and provides a foundation for future work on the relationship of BM mechanics to cell function in renal disease.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.
Tumor microvasculature tends to be malformed, more permeable, and more tortuous than vessels in healthy tissue, effects that have been largely attributed to up-regulated VEGF expression. However, tumor tissue tends to stiffen during solid tumor progression, and tissue stiffness is known to alter cell behaviors including proliferation, migration, and cell-cell adhesion, which are all requisite for angiogenesis. Using in vitro, in vivo, and ex ovo models, we investigated the effects of matrix stiffness on vessel growth and integrity during angiogenesis. Our data indicate that angiogenic outgrowth, invasion, and neovessel branching increase with matrix cross-linking. These effects are caused by increased matrix stiffness independent of matrix density, because increased matrix density results in decreased angiogenesis. Notably, matrix stiffness up-regulates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity, and inhibiting MMPs significantly reduces angiogenic outgrowth in stiffer cross-linked gels. To investigate the functional significance of altered endothelial cell behavior in response to matrix stiffness, we measured endothelial cell barrier function on substrates mimicking the stiffness of healthy and tumor tissue. Our data indicate that barrier function is impaired and the localization of vascular endothelial cadherin is altered as function of matrix stiffness. These results demonstrate that matrix stiffness, separately from matrix density, can alter vascular growth and integrity, mimicking the changes that exist in tumor vasculature. These data suggest that therapeutically targeting tumor stiffness or the endothelial cell response to tumor stiffening may help restore vessel structure, minimize metastasis, and aid in drug delivery.
Changes in the distribution of bone mineralization occurring with aging, disease, or treatment have prompted concerns that alterations in mineralization heterogeneity may affect the fracture resistance of bone. Yet, so far, studies assessing bone from hip fracture cases and fracture-free women have not reached a consensus on how heterogeneity in tissue mineralization relates to skeletal fragility. Owing to the multifactorial nature of toughening mechanisms occurring in bone, we assessed the relative contribution of heterogeneity in mineralization to fracture resistance with respect to age, porosity, and area fraction of osteonal tissue. The latter parameters were extracted from quantitative backscattered electron imaging of human cortical bone sections following R-curve tests of single-edge notched beam specimens to determine fracture toughness properties. Microstructural heterogeneity was determined as the width of the mineral distribution (bulk) and as the sill of the variogram (local). In univariate analyses of measures from 62 human donors (21 to 101 years), local but not bulk heterogeneity as well as pore clustering negatively correlated with fracture toughness properties. With age as covariate, heterogeneity was a significant predictor of crack initiation, though local had a stronger negative contribution than bulk. When considering all potential covariates, age, cortical porosity and area fraction of osteons explained up to 50% of the variance in bone׳s crack initiation toughness. However, including heterogeneity in mineralization did not improve upon this prediction. The findings of the present work stress the necessity to account for porosity and microstructure when evaluating the potential of matrix-related features to affect skeletal fragility.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Tissue-level mechanical properties characterize mechanical behavior independently of microscopic porosity. Specifically, quasi-static nanoindentation provides measurements of modulus (stiffness) and hardness (resistance to yielding) of tissue at the length scale of the lamella, while dynamic nanoindentation assesses time-dependent behavior in the form of storage modulus (stiffness), loss modulus (dampening), and loss factor (ratio of the two). While these properties are useful in establishing how a gene, signaling pathway, or disease of interest affects bone tissue, they generally do not vary with aging after skeletal maturation or with osteoporosis. Heterogeneity in tissue-level mechanical properties or in compositional properties may contribute to fracture risk, but a consensus on whether the contribution is negative or positive has not emerged. In vivo indentation of bone tissue is now possible, and the mechanical resistance to microindentation has the potential for improving fracture risk assessment, though determinants are currently unknown.
Inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system used to treat several diseases have also been shown to be effective on bone tissue, suggesting that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers may reduce fracture risk. The present study investigated the effects of losartan on the physicochemical and biomechanical properties of diabetic rat bone. Losartan (5 mg/kg/day) was administered via oral gavage for 12 weeks. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Whole femurs were tested under tension to evaluate the biomechanical properties of bone. The physicochemical properties of bone were analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Although losartan did not recover decreases in the BMD of diabetic bone, it recovered the physicochemical (mineral and collagen matrix) properties of diabetic rat bone. Furthermore, losartan also recovered ultimate tensile strength of diabetic rat femurs. Losartan, an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker, has a therapeutic effect on the physicochemical properties of diabetic bone resulting in improvement of bone strength at the material level. Therefore, specific inhibition of this pathway at the receptor level shows potential as a therapeutic target for diabetic patients suffering from bone diseases such as osteopenia.