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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.
Tumor vasculature is known to be more permeable than the vasculature found in healthy tissue, which in turn can lead to a more aggressive tumor phenotype and impair drug delivery into tumors. While the stiffening of the stroma surrounding solid tumors has been reported to increase vascular permeability, the mechanism of this process remains unclear. Here, we utilize an in vitro model of tumor stiffening, ex ovo culture, and a mouse model to investigate the molecular mechanism by which matrix stiffening alters endothelial barrier function. Our data indicate that the increased endothelial permeability caused by heightened matrix stiffness can be prevented by pharmaceutical inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) both in vitro and ex ovo. Matrix stiffness-mediated FAK activation determines Src localization to cell-cell junctions, which then induces increased vascular endothelial cadherin phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo. Endothelial cells in stiff tumors have more activated Src and higher levels of phosphorylated vascular endothelial cadherin at adherens junctions compared to endothelial cells in more compliant tumors. Altogether, our data indicate that matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier integrity through FAK activity, providing one mechanism by which extracellular matrix stiffness regulates endothelial barrier function. Additionally, our work also provides further evidence that FAK is a promising potential target for cancer therapy because FAK plays a critical role in the regulation of endothelial barrier integrity.-Wang, W., Lollis, E. M., Bordeleau, F., Reinhart-King, C. A. Matrix stiffness regulates vascular integrity through focal adhesion kinase activity.
Within the artery intima, endothelial cells respond to mechanical cues and changes in subendothelial matrix stiffness. Recently, we found that the aging subendothelial matrix stiffens heterogeneously and that stiffness heterogeneities are present on the scale of one cell length. However, the impacts of these complex mechanical micro-heterogeneities on endothelial cells have not been fully understood. Here, we simulate the effects of matrices that mimic young and aged vessels on single- and multi-cell endothelial cell models and examine the resulting cell basal strain profiles. Although there are limitations to the model which prohibit the prediction of intracellular strain distributions in alive cells, this model does introduce mechanical complexities to the subendothelial matrix material. More heterogeneous basal strain distributions are present in the single- and multi-cell models on the matrix mimicking an aged artery over those exhibited on the young artery. Overall, our data indicate that increased heterogeneous strain profiles in endothelial cells are displayed in silico when there is an increased presence of microscale arterial mechanical heterogeneities in the matrix.
The frequency of prediabetes is increasing as the prevalence of obesity rises worldwide. In prediabetes, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and inflammation and metabolic derangements associated with concomitant obesity cause endothelial vasodilator and fibrinolytic dysfunction, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular and renal disease. Importantly, the microvasculature affects insulin sensitivity by affecting the delivery of insulin and glucose to skeletal muscle; thus, endothelial dysfunction and extracellular matrix remodeling promote the progression from prediabetes to diabetes mellitus. Weight loss is the mainstay of treatment in prediabetes, but therapies that improved endothelial function and vasodilation may not only prevent cardiovascular disease but also slow progression to diabetes mellitus.
© 2018 American Heart Association, Inc.
Tubulointerstitial fibrosis (TIF) is the hallmark of chronic kidney disease and best predictor of renal survival. Many different cell types contribute to TIF progression including tubular epithelial cells, myofibroblasts, endothelia, and inflammatory cells. Previously, most of the attention has centered on myofibroblasts given their central importance in extracellular matrix production. However, emerging data focuses on how the response of the proximal tubule, a specialized epithelial segment vulnerable to injury, plays a central role in TIF progression. Several proximal tubular responses such as de-differentiation, cell cycle changes, autophagy, and metabolic changes may be adaptive initially, but can lead to maladaptive responses that promote TIF both through autocrine and paracrine effects. This review discusses the current paradigm of TIF progression and the increasingly important role of the proximal tubule in promoting TIF both in tubulointerstitial and glomerular injuries. A better understanding and appreciation of the role of the proximal tubule in TIF has important implications for therapeutic strategies to halt chronic kidney disease progression.
Copyright © 2018 International Society of Matrix Biology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Age-related vascular stiffening is closely associated with cardiovascular risk. The clinical measure of arterial stiffness, pulse wave velocity, reflects bulk structural changes in the media observed with age, but does not reflect intimal remodeling that also drives atherosclerosis. Endothelial barrier integrity is disrupted during early atherogenesis and is regulated by the mechanics and composition of the underlying intima, which undergoes significant atherogenic remodeling in response to age and hemodynamics. Here, we first review the best characterized of these changes, including physiological intimal thickening throughout the arterial tree, fibronectin and collagen deposition, and collagen cross-linking. We then address the most common in vivo and in vitro models used to gain mechanistic insight into the consequences of intimal remodeling. Finally, we consider the impacts of intimal stiffening upon endothelial cell mechanotransduction with emphasis on the emerging impact of increased complexity in cellular traction forces and substrate rigidity upon endothelial barrier integrity.
© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Tissues stiffen during aging and during the pathological progression of cancer, fibrosis, and cardiovascular disease. Extracellular matrix stiffness is emerging as a prominent mechanical cue that precedes disease and drives its progression by altering cellular behaviors. Targeting extracellular matrix mechanics, by preventing or reversing tissue stiffening or interrupting the cellular response, is a therapeutic approach with clinical potential. Major drivers of changes to the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix include phenotypically converted myofibroblasts, transforming growth factor β (TGFβ), and matrix cross-linking. Potential pharmacological interventions to overcome extracellular matrix stiffening are emerging clinically. Aside from targeting stiffening directly, alternative approaches to mitigate the effects of increased matrix stiffness aim to identify and inhibit the downstream cellular response to matrix stiffness. Therapeutic interventions that target tissue stiffening are discussed in the context of their limitations, preclinical drug development efforts, and clinical trials.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
Consumption of a high-fat, high-sugar diet and sedentary lifestyle are correlated with bulk arterial stiffening. While measurements of bulk arterial stiffening are used to assess cardiovascular health clinically, they cannot account for changes to the tissue occurring on the cellular scale. The compliance of the subendothelial matrix in the intima mediates vascular permeability, an initiating step in atherosclerosis. High-fat, high-sugar diet consumption and a sedentary lifestyle both cause micro-scale subendothelial matrix stiffening, but the impact of these factors in concert remains unknown. In this study, mice on a high-fat, high-sugar diet were treated with aerobic exercise or returned to a normal diet. We measured bulk arterial stiffness through pulse wave velocity and subendothelial matrix stiffness ex vivo through atomic force microscopy. Our data indicate that while diet reversal mitigates high-fat, high-sugar diet-induced macro- and micro-scale stiffening, exercise only significantly decreases micro-scale stiffness and not macro-scale stiffness, during the time-scale studied. These data underscore the need for both healthy diet and exercise to maintain vascular health. These data also indicate that exercise may serve as a key lifestyle modification to partially reverse the deleterious impacts of high-fat, high-sugar diet consumption, even while macro-scale stiffness indicators do not change.
Cell migration in a three-dimensional matrix requires that cells either remodel the surrounding matrix fibers and/or squeeze between the fibers to move. Matrix degradation, matrix remodeling, and changes in cell shape each require cells to expend energy. While significant research has been performed to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms guiding metastatic migration, less is known about cellular energy regulation and utilization during three-dimensional cancer cell migration. Here we introduce the use of the genetically encoded fluorescent biomarkers, PercevalHR and pHRed, to quantitatively assess ATP, ADP, and pH levels in MDA-MB-231 metastatic cancer cells as a function of the local collagen microenvironment. We find that the use of the probe is an effective tool for exploring the thermodynamics of cancer cell migration and invasion. Specifically, we find that the ATP:ADP ratio increases in cells in denser matrices, where migration is impaired, and it decreases in cells in aligned collagen matrices, where migration is facilitated. When migration is pharmacologically inhibited, the ATP:ADP ratio decreases. Together, our data indicate that matrix architecture alters cellular energetics and that intracellular ATP:ADP ratio is related to the ability of cancer cells to effectively migrate.
© 2018 Zanotelli, Goldblatt, Miller, et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).
BACKGROUND - Conduit-based nerve repairs are commonly used for small nerve gaps, whereas primary repair may be performed if there is no tension on nerve endings. We hypothesize that a conduit-based nerve coaptation device will improve nerve repair outcomes by avoiding sutures at the nerve repair site and utilizing the advantages of a conduit-based repair.
METHODS - The left sciatic nerves of female Sprague-Dawley rats were transected and repaired using a novel conduit-based device. The conduit-based device group was compared to a control group of rats that underwent a standard end-to-end microsurgical repair of the sciatic nerve. Animals underwent behavioral assessments at weekly intervals post-operatively using the sciatic functional index (SFI) test. Animals were sacrificed at four weeks to obtain motor axon counts from immunohistochemistry. A sub-group of animals were sacrificed immediately post repair to obtain MRI images.
RESULTS - SFI scores were superior in rats which received conduit-based repairs compared to the control group. Motor axon counts distal to the injury in the device group at four weeks were statistically superior to the control group. MRI tractography was used to demonstrate repair of two nerves using the novel conduit device.
CONCLUSIONS - A conduit-based nerve coaptation device avoids sutures at the nerve repair site and leads to improved outcomes in a rat model. Conduit-based nerve repair devices have the potential to standardize nerve repairs while improving outcomes.