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Special Issue "Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Biophysics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022 | Viewed by 3388

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Orfeo Sbaizero
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering and Architecture, Università degli Studi di Trieste, Trieste, Italy
Interests: biophysics and mechanical properties of cells

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cells in our body are subjected to mechanical stresses and can sense these mechanical stimuli and actively respond to them by triggering biomechanical reactions that include cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, motility, and even apoptosis. Furthermore, cell mechanics studies have shown that changes in cell and nuclear mechanics are hallmarks of many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, laminopathies, cancer, infectious diseases, and fragility in aging. In this regard, mechanobiology studies the essential roles that these physical factors play via mechanotransduction. However, this field needs reliable and reproducible data of cell mechanical properties, but reported values of cell stiffness and/or viscosity vary considerably, which suggests differences in how the results of different methods are obtained or analyzed by different groups.

Therefore, we believe that the present offers an excellent opportunity to gain a better understanding of these fundamental concepts, and we would like to give researchers in many interdisciplinary areas of research—such as biophysics, biomedicine, tissue engineering, and materials science—the opportunity to address and illustrate the complementarity of biophysical and biological approaches and how mechanical properties influence cells' behavior with their surrounding microenvironment, both in healthy conditions and in diseases. Recent advances in developing novel techniques and tools for cell mechanics characterization and the challenges associated with their implementation will also be presented.

Prof. Dr. Orfeo Sbaizero
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • cell mechanics
  • cell surface mechanics
  • intracellular mechanics
  • mechanobiology
  • mechanotransduction
  • mechanosensing
  • modelling cell mechanic
  • cell mechanical techniques
  • exogenous mechanical stimuli
  • endogenous mechanical stimuli

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Actin Stress Fibers Response and Adaptation under Stretch
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(9), 5095; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23095095 - 03 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 568
Abstract
One of the many effects of soft tissues under mechanical solicitation in the cellular damage produced by highly localized strain. Here, we study the response of peripheral stress fibers (SFs) to external stretch in mammalian cells, plated onto deformable micropatterned substrates. A local [...] Read more.
One of the many effects of soft tissues under mechanical solicitation in the cellular damage produced by highly localized strain. Here, we study the response of peripheral stress fibers (SFs) to external stretch in mammalian cells, plated onto deformable micropatterned substrates. A local fluorescence analysis reveals that an adaptation response is observed at the vicinity of the focal adhesion sites (FAs) due to its mechanosensor function. The response depends on the type of mechanical stress, from a Maxwell-type material in compression to a complex scenario in extension, where a mechanotransduction and a self-healing process takes place in order to prevent the induced severing of the SF. A model is proposed to take into account the effect of the applied stretch on the mechanics of the SF, from which relevant parameters of the healing process are obtained. In contrast, the repair of the actin bundle occurs at the weak point of the SF and depends on the amount of applied strain. As a result, the SFs display strain-softening features due to the incorporation of new actin material into the bundle. In contrast, the response under compression shows a reorganization with a constant actin material suggesting a gliding process of the SFs by the myosin II motors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells)
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Article
The Role of Cytoskeleton Revealed by Quartz Crystal Microbalance and Digital Holographic Microscopy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(8), 4108; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23084108 - 07 Apr 2022
Viewed by 643
Abstract
The connection between cytoskeleton alterations and diseases is well known and has stimulated research on cell mechanics, aiming to develop reliable biomarkers. In this study, we present results on rheological, adhesion, and morphological properties of primary rat cardiac fibroblasts, the cytoskeleton of which [...] Read more.
The connection between cytoskeleton alterations and diseases is well known and has stimulated research on cell mechanics, aiming to develop reliable biomarkers. In this study, we present results on rheological, adhesion, and morphological properties of primary rat cardiac fibroblasts, the cytoskeleton of which was altered by treatment with cytochalasin D (Cyt-D) and nocodazole (Noc), respectively. We used two complementary techniques: quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and digital holographic microscopy (DHM). Qualitative data on cell viscoelasticity and adhesion changes at the cell–substrate near-interface layer were obtained with QCM, while DHM allowed the measurement of morphological changes due to the cytoskeletal alterations. A rapid effect of Cyt-D was observed, leading to a reduction in cell viscosity, loss of adhesion, and cell rounding, often followed by detachment from the surface. Noc treatment, instead, induced slower but continuous variations in the rheological behavior for four hours of treatment. The higher vibrational energy dissipation reflected the cell’s ability to maintain a stable attachment to the substrate, while a cytoskeletal rearrangement occurs. In fact, along with the complete disaggregation of microtubules at prolonged drug exposure, a compensatory effect of actin polymerization emerged, with increased stress fiber formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells)
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Article
Effect of Different Parameters of In Vitro Static Tensile Strain on Human Periodontal Ligament Cells Simulating the Tension Side of Orthodontic Tooth Movement
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(3), 1525; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031525 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 664
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the effects of different magnitudes and durations of static tensile strain on human periodontal ligament cells (hPDLCs), focusing on osteogenesis, mechanosensing and inflammation. Static tensile strain magnitudes of 0%, 3%, 6%, 10%, 15% and 20% were applied to [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the effects of different magnitudes and durations of static tensile strain on human periodontal ligament cells (hPDLCs), focusing on osteogenesis, mechanosensing and inflammation. Static tensile strain magnitudes of 0%, 3%, 6%, 10%, 15% and 20% were applied to hPDLCs for 1, 2 and 3 days. Cell viability was confirmed via live/dead cell staining. Reference genes were tested by reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and assessed. The expressions of TNFRSF11B, ALPL, RUNX2, BGLAP, SP7, FOS, IL6, PTGS2, TNF, IL1B, IL8, IL10 and PGE2 were analyzed by RT-qPCR and/or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). ALPL and RUNX2 both peaked after 1 day, reaching their maximum at 3%, whereas BGLAP peaked after 3 days with its maximum at 10%. SP7 peaked after 1 day at 6%, 10% and 15%. FOS peaked after 3 days with its maximum at 3%, 6% and 15%. The expressions of IL6 and PTGS2 both peaked after 1 day, with their minimum at 10%. PGE2 peaked after 1 day (maximum at 20%). The ELISA of IL6 peaked after 3 days, with the minimum at 10%. In summary, the lower magnitudes promoted osteogenesis and caused less inflammation, while the higher magnitudes inhibited osteogenesis and enhanced inflammation. Among all magnitudes, 10% generally caused a lower level of inflammation with a higher level of osteogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells)
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Review

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Review
Piezo1 Channel as a Potential Target for Hindering Cardiac Fibrotic Remodeling
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(15), 8065; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23158065 - 22 Jul 2022
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Fibrotic tissues share many common features with neoplasms where there is an increased stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM). In this review, we present recent discoveries related to the role of the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1 in several diseases, especially in regulating tumor [...] Read more.
Fibrotic tissues share many common features with neoplasms where there is an increased stiffness of the extracellular matrix (ECM). In this review, we present recent discoveries related to the role of the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1 in several diseases, especially in regulating tumor progression, and how this can be compared with cardiac mechanobiology. Based on recent findings, Piezo1 could be upregulated in cardiac fibroblasts as a consequence of the mechanical stress and pro-inflammatory stimuli that occurs after myocardial injury, and its increased activity could be responsible for a positive feedback loop that leads to fibrosis progression. The increased Piezo1-mediated calcium flow may play an important role in cytoskeleton reorganization since it induces actin stress fibers formation, a well-known characteristic of fibroblast transdifferentiation into the activated myofibroblast. Moreover, Piezo1 activity stimulates ECM and cytokines production, which in turn promotes the phenoconversion of adjacent fibroblasts into new myofibroblasts, enhancing the invasive character. Thus, by assuming the Piezo1 involvement in the activation of intrinsic fibroblasts, recruitment of new myofibroblasts, and uncontrolled excessive ECM production, a new approach to blocking the fibrotic progression can be predicted. Therefore, targeted therapies against Piezo1 could also be beneficial for cardiac fibrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells)
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Review
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) Applications in Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(7), 3700; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23073700 - 28 Mar 2022
Viewed by 601
Abstract
Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is an inherited heart muscle disorder characterized by progressive replacement of cardiomyocytes by fibrofatty tissue, ventricular dilatation, cardiac dysfunction, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. Interest in molecular biomechanics for these disorders is constantly growing. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a [...] Read more.
Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is an inherited heart muscle disorder characterized by progressive replacement of cardiomyocytes by fibrofatty tissue, ventricular dilatation, cardiac dysfunction, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. Interest in molecular biomechanics for these disorders is constantly growing. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a well-established technic to study the mechanobiology of biological samples under physiological and pathological conditions at the cellular scale. However, a review which described all the different data that can be obtained using the AFM (cell elasticity, adhesion behavior, viscoelasticity, beating force, and frequency) is still missing. In this review, we will discuss several techniques that highlight the potential of AFM to be used as a tool for assessing the biomechanics involved in ACM. Indeed, analysis of genetically mutated cells with AFM reveal abnormalities of the cytoskeleton, cell membrane structures, and defects of contractility. The higher the Young’s modulus, the stiffer the cell, and it is well known that abnormal tissue stiffness is symptomatic of a range of diseases. The cell beating force and frequency provide information during the depolarization and repolarization phases, complementary to cell electrophysiology (calcium imaging, MEA, patch clamp). In addition, original data is also presented to emphasize the unique potential of AFM as a tool to assess fibrosis in cardiac tissue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biophysics and Mechanical Properties of Cells)
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