Quantifying solid stress and elastic energy from excised or in situ tumors

Nat Protoc. 2018 May;13(5):1091-1105. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2018.020. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


Solid stress, distinct from both tissue stiffness and fluid pressure, is a mechanical stress that is often elevated in both murine and human tumors. The importance of solid stress in tumor biology has been recognized in initial studies: solid stress promotes tumor progression and lowers the efficacy of anticancer therapies by compressing blood vessels and contributing to hypoxia. However, robust, reproducible, and objective methods that go beyond demonstration and bulk measurements have not yet been established. We have developed three new techniques to rigorously measure and map solid stress in both human and murine tumors that are able to account for heterogeneity in the tumor microenvironment. We describe here these methods and their independent advantages: 2D spatial mapping of solid stress (planar-cut method), sensitive estimation of solid stress in small tumors (slicing method), and in situ solid-stress quantification (needle-biopsy method). Furthermore, the preservation of tissue morphology and structure allows for subsequent histological analyses in matched tumor sections, facilitating quantitative correlations between solid stress and markers of interest. The three procedures each require ∼2 h of experimental time per tumor. The required skill sets include basic experience in tumor resection and/or biopsy (in mice or humans), as well as in intravital imaging (e.g., ultrasonography).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Elasticity*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pathology / methods*
  • Stress, Mechanical*