Special Issue "Cell and Matrix Biomechanics in Physiology and Pathology"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991). This special issue belongs to the section "Biology and Medicines".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2022 | Viewed by 1962

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Massimo Vassalli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Interests: My general research interest is in understanding the mechanisms by which physical forces are transduced into biologically relevant signals (mechanotransduction), and their role in the homoeostasis of key physiological processes whose alteration eventually leads to pathology or degeneration, such as in cancer or ageing (mechanobiology). Moreover, exploiting my technical background in physics and engineering, I'm also committed in developing enabling microscopy and spectroscopy tools to measure mechanical properties, image and manipulate biological objects at the level of cells and molecules (nanoengineering).
Dr. Federica Viti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council, Genova, Italy
Interests: My research interests mainly focus on two topics. First, cellular biomechanics, as an approach to characterize living cells and distinguish between different cells types or physio/pathological conditions. Second, bioinformatics, carrying out activities on data analysis and interpretation from omics technologies, in particular genomic and transcriptomics high-throughput approaches. In addition, I developed interests in application of technology to biological and biomedical fields, exploiting my bioengineering background

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical aspects of biological systems. In fact, cells and tissues of organisms are constantly exposed to exogenous and endogenous forces, called biomechanical cues. The term “cell and matrix biomechanics” refers to the analysis of structures and functions present and enabled at the cellular and extracellular levels that are related to those cues. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is dynamic and provides both physical and functional cues that cells perceive and respond to through the process of mechanotransduction (PMID: 23681438). Biomechanical features usually include those related to both mechanical and morphological characteristics. The interest in investigating mechanics is related to the cruciality of the forces contributing to cell and tissue fate (PMID: 29183939). On the other hand, the interest in shape relies on the fact that structure and function are tightly connected, and this is especially true in the cellular and extracellular environments. Examples of this relation are the progressive change in shape and size observed during cell differentiation processes (PMID: 24034255; PMID: 32490503), and the response of cells to different nanopatterned substrates which mimic the dynamicity of the extracellular matrix (PMID: 32170111).

This Special Issue aims to better investigate the roles, activities, and effects of forces in living cells and in their environment. We invite scientists to contribute with original research articles and literature reviews that provide insights into the complex intracellular and extracellular activities at the mechanical and morphological levels that characterize the physiological and pathological conditions. We are particularly interested in contributions that investigate advanced and translational research on the morpho-mechanical aspects of cells and tissues, which could potentially contribute, in the future, to the early diagnosis of diseases and to novel therapies. Furthermore, basic research in the field is warmly appreciated. 

Potential topics of this Special Issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nuclear and cellular mechanobiology in disease;
  • Tissue mechanopathology;
  • ECM involvement in physiological and pathological behaviors;
  • Mechano-oncology, mechano-immunology, and mechano-therapeutics;
  • Disease mechanobiology on chips;
  • Mechanical features of 3D in vitro models;
  • Mechanotransduction players and processes;

Prof. Dr. Massimo Vassalli
Dr. Federica Viti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nanomaterials is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • cellular mechanics
  • mechanobiology
  • tissue biomechanics
  • mechanical pathologies
  • mechanotransduction
  • ECM mechanics
  • cell-ECM interaction

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Article
Cells on Hydrogels with Micron-Scaled Stiffness Patterns Demonstrate Local Stiffness Sensing
Nanomaterials 2022, 12(4), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano12040648 - 15 Feb 2022
Viewed by 691
Abstract
Cell rigidity sensing—a basic cellular process allowing cells to adapt to mechanical cues—involves cell capabilities exerting force on the extracellular environment. In vivo, cells are exposed to multi-scaled heterogeneities in the mechanical properties of the surroundings. Here, we investigate whether cells are able [...] Read more.
Cell rigidity sensing—a basic cellular process allowing cells to adapt to mechanical cues—involves cell capabilities exerting force on the extracellular environment. In vivo, cells are exposed to multi-scaled heterogeneities in the mechanical properties of the surroundings. Here, we investigate whether cells are able to sense micron-scaled stiffness textures by measuring the forces they transmit to the extracellular matrix. To this end, we propose an efficient photochemistry of polyacrylamide hydrogels to design micron-scale stiffness patterns with kPa/µm gradients. Additionally, we propose an original protocol for the surface coating of adhesion proteins, which allows tuning the surface density from fully coupled to fully independent of the stiffness pattern. This evidences that cells pull on their surroundings by adjusting the level of stress to the micron-scaled stiffness. This conclusion was achieved through improvements in the traction force microscopy technique, e.g., adapting to substrates with a non-uniform stiffness and achieving a submicron resolution thanks to the implementation of a pyramidal optical flow algorithm. These developments provide tools for enhancing the current understanding of the contribution of stiffness alterations in many pathologies, including cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell and Matrix Biomechanics in Physiology and Pathology)
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Article
Impact of Aging on the Ovarian Extracellular Matrix and Derived 3D Scaffolds
Nanomaterials 2022, 12(3), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano12030345 - 21 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 571
Abstract
Advances in medical care, improvements in sanitation, and rising living standards contribute to increased life expectancy. Although this reflects positive human development, it also poses new challenges. Among these, reproductive aging is gradually becoming a key health issue because the age of menopause [...] Read more.
Advances in medical care, improvements in sanitation, and rising living standards contribute to increased life expectancy. Although this reflects positive human development, it also poses new challenges. Among these, reproductive aging is gradually becoming a key health issue because the age of menopause has remained constant at ~50 years, leading women to live longer in suboptimal endocrine conditions. An adequate understanding of ovarian senescence mechanisms is essential to prevent age-related diseases and to promote wellbeing, health, and longevity in women. We here analyze the impact of aging on the ovarian extracellular matrix (ECM), and we demonstrate significant changes in its composition and organization with collagen, glycosaminoglycans, and laminins significantly incremented, and elastin, as well as fibronectin, decreased. This is accompanied by a dynamic response in gene expression levels of the main ECM- and protease-related genes, indicating a direct impact of aging on the transcription machinery. Furthermore, in order to study the mechanisms driving aging and identify possible strategies to counteract ovarian tissue degeneration, we here described the successful production of a 3D ECM-based biological scaffold that preserves the structural modifications taking place in vivo and that represents a powerful high predictive in vitro model for reproductive aging and its prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell and Matrix Biomechanics in Physiology and Pathology)
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