The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a major component of the biomechanical environment with which cells interact, and it plays important roles in both normal development and disease progression. Mechanical and biochemical factors alter the biomechanical properties of tissues by driving cellular remodeling of the ECM. This review provides an overview of the structural, compositional, and mechanical properties of the ECM that instruct cell behaviors. Case studies are reviewed that highlight mechanotransduction in the context of two distinct tissues: tendons and the heart. Although these two tissues demonstrate differences in relative cell-ECM composition and mechanical environment, they share similar mechanisms underlying ECM dysfunction and cell mechanotransduction. Together, these topics provide a framework for a fundamental understanding of the ECM and how it may vary across normal and diseased tissues in response to mechanical and biochemical cues. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Mechanobiology.
Keywords: Biomechanics; Cell mechanics; Cytoskeleton; Diastolic dysfunction; Mechanotransduction; Tendinopathy.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.