A tense situation: forcing tumour progression

Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Feb;9(2):108-22. doi: 10.1038/nrc2544.


Cells within tissues are continuously exposed to physical forces including hydrostatic pressure, shear stress, and compression and tension forces. Cells dynamically adapt to force by modifying their behaviour and remodelling their microenvironment. They also sense these forces through mechanoreceptors and respond by exerting reciprocal actomyosin- and cytoskeletal-dependent cell-generated force by a process termed 'mechanoreciprocity'. Loss of mechanoreciprocity has been shown to promote the progression of disease, including cancer. Moreover, the mechanical properties of a tissue contribute to disease progression, compromise treatment and might also alter cancer risk. Thus, the changing force that cells experience needs to be considered when trying to understand the complex nature of tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Processes
  • Stress, Mechanical