Stephen Riffle 6/01/2022 at 1:30 pm
Recently read this paper on the material properties of ECM and how fibrosis can lead to stiffening of a cells extracellular environment, which in turn can fuel alterations in cell signaling and behavior. Obviously there’s a lot going on during fibrosis, but what stood out to me here is that the actual mechanical properties of the ECM appear to be important factors in cell behavior and, in this case, pathogenesis of primary open angel glaucoma. Figured I’d post it here for others to see and am generally curious how much ya’ll factor in the mechanical properties of ECM when designing a model, be it MCTS or MPS. I think we all know that tissue specific ECM is better than matrigel, but I had always chocked that up more to signaling from the ECM in terms of growth factors and physical barriers to movement, not so much the actual stiffness of the ecm and how that alone affects cell behavior.
Anyway, curious to see what ya’ll think.
Jennifer Fang 6/03/2022 at 5:09 pm
I’m a postdoc in the Hughes lab currently, and since substrate stiffness is known to be pretty critical to endothelial cell signaling (e.g. https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=115388 among others), we do spend time optimizing that aspect of our gels as part of our optimization process when working with different cells.
Stephen Riffle 6/06/2022 at 12:22 pm
Thanks for sharing, that’s a really interesting paper. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the material/mechanical properties of the ECM would influence cell signaling/behavior. But that aspect of the cell’s microenvironmental niche really escaped my notice. I wonder how ECM stiffening or relaxing may encourage or discourage pathological angiogenesis (in the tumor or retinopathy settings, for example). And, for that matter, how ECM material properties do or do not influence developmental processes like tubulogenesis. Just a fascinating aspect of the cellular niche!
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