Cell-cell adhesion complexes are macromolecular adhesive organelles that integrate cells into tissues. This mechanochemical coupling in cell-cell adhesion is required for a large number of cell behaviors, and perturbations of the cell-cell adhesion structure or related mechanotransduction pathways can lead to critical pathological conditions such as skin and heart diseases, arthritis, and cancer. Mechanical stretching has been a widely used method to stimulate the mechanotransduction process originating from the cell-cell adhesion and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) complexes. These studies aimed to reveal the biophysical processes governing cell proliferation, wound healing, gene expression regulation, and cell differentiation in various tissues, including cardiac, muscle, vascular, and bone. This review explores techniques in mechanical stretching in two-dimensional settings with different stretching regimens on different cell types. The mechanotransduction responses from these different cell types will be discussed with an emphasis on their biophysical transformations during mechanical stretching and the cross talk between the cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesion complexes. Therapeutic aspects of mechanical stretching are reviewed considering these cellular responses after the application of mechanical forces, with a focus on wound healing and tissue regeneration. Impact Statement Mechanical stretching has been proposed as a therapeutic option for tissue regeneration and wound healing. It has been accepted that mechanotransduction processes elicited by mechanical stretching govern cellular response and behavior, and these studies have predominantly focused on the cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) sites. This review serves the mechanobiology community by shifting the focus of mechanical stretching effects from cell-ECM adhesions to the less examined cell-cell adhesions, which we believe play an equally important role in orchestrating the response pathways.
Keywords: cell–cell adhesion; mechanical stretching; mechanotransduction; regenerative medicine; tissue regeneration; wound healing.