The relationship between cancer and biomechanics

Front Oncol. 2023 Oct 12:13:1273154. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2023.1273154. eCollection 2023.


The onset, development, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer involve intricate interactions among various factors, spanning the realms of mechanics, physics, chemistry, and biology. Within our bodies, cells are subject to a variety of forces such as gravity, magnetism, tension, compression, shear stress, and biological static force/hydrostatic pressure. These forces are perceived by mechanoreceptors as mechanical signals, which are then transmitted to cells through a process known as mechanical transduction. During tumor development, invasion and metastasis, there are significant biomechanical influences on various aspects such as tumor angiogenesis, interactions between tumor cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM), interactions between tumor cells and other cells, and interactions between tumor cells and the circulatory system and vasculature. The tumor microenvironment comprises a complex interplay of cells, ECM and vasculature, with the ECM, comprising collagen, fibronectins, integrins, laminins and matrix metalloproteinases, acting as a critical mediator of mechanical properties and a key component within the mechanical signaling pathway. The vasculature exerts appropriate shear forces on tumor cells, enabling their escape from immune surveillance, facilitating their dissemination in the bloodstream, dictating the trajectory of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and playing a pivotal role in regulating adhesion to the vessel wall. Tumor biomechanics plays a critical role in tumor progression and metastasis, as alterations in biomechanical properties throughout the malignant transformation process trigger a cascade of changes in cellular behavior and the tumor microenvironment, ultimately culminating in the malignant biological behavior of the tumor.

Keywords: biomechanics; cancer; invasion; metastasis; tumor microenvironment.

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Grants and funding

The authors declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This work was supported by grants from Basic Scientific Research Project of WenZhou Science and Technology Bureau (Y20210935), Youth Cultivation Project of National Clinical Key Specialty (General Surgery, 2021), Province-Ministry Joint Project In Zhejiang Province (WKJ-ZJ-2342) and Major Projects At Universities In JiangSu Province (19KJA170002).