Advances in mechanical biomarkers

J Mol Recognit. 2023 Aug;36(8):e3022. doi: 10.1002/jmr.3022. Epub 2023 Jun 8.


Mechanical biomarkers distinguish health conditions through quantitative mechanical measurements. The emergence and establishment of nanotechnology in the last decades have provided new tools to obtain mechanical biomarkers at the nanoscale. Mechanical measurements are reproducible, label-free, start to be applied in vivo can be high throughput, and require small samples. Mechanical protocols in clinical practice at the macro scale like palpation or blood pressure measurement are routinely used by medical doctors. Nanotechnology brought mechanical sensing to the next scale, where cells, tissues, and proteins can be probed and linked to medical conditions. Mechanical changes in cells and tissues may be detected before other markers, such as protein expression, providing an important advantage as biomarkers. In the present review, we explore the biomarker's historical evolution, describe mechanical biomarkers on various diseases and novel discoveries in the nanomechanical field for their characterization. We conclude that mechanical biomarkers are establishing novel hallmarks in diseases, in several cases for early diagnostics of diseases and discovery of drug targets in the proteins involved in the mechanical changes, while advances in instrumentation are bringing commercial products into the clinical practice. Mechanical biomarkers along with clinical testing are establishing an important niche in the market, whose demand is increasing due to the expansion of personalized medicine and unmet needs in the clinics.

Keywords: biomarkers; biophysics; cell mechanics; diagnosis; mechanobiology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins*
  • Proteomics*


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins