Skip to main content

‘Stretched’ cells promote cancer

Feb. 19, 2015, 4:00 PM

Interactions between tumor cells and other cell types in the surrounding microenvironment (stroma) are crucial for tumor cell growth, survival and metastatic spread. Although tumor cells are known to induce mechanical changes in their microenvironment, few studies have examined the effect of mechanical stimuli on stromal cells such as fibroblasts.

Donna Webb, Ph.D., Deyu Li, Ph.D., and colleagues used a microfluidic platform to study the effects of “stretching” human prostatic fibroblasts. They report Feb. 9 in Scientific Reports that mechanical stretching of normal tissue-associated fibroblasts (NAFs) alters the structure of the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin. While unstretched NAFs deposit and assemble fibronectin in a random, mesh-like arrangement, stretched NAFs produce matrix with a more organized, linearly aligned structure. Stretched NAFs also directed co-cultured cancer cell migration and had biochemical changes consistent with those observed in cancer-associated fibroblasts.

The findings suggest that mechanical stress is a critical factor in activating NAFs to generate cancer-associated fibroblasts.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA155572, GM092914, RR025524).

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to aliquots@vanderbilt.edu

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

The first few minutes of Charlie’s life were a blur, as a team of doctors and nurses at VUMC worked to resuscitate him and stabilize his heart rate. He was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Hope

The first few minutes of Charlie’s life were a blur, as a team of doctors and nurses at VUMC worked to resuscitate him and stabilize his heart rate. He was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Tucked away in a Vanderbilt conference room, 36 adults huddle over Lego pieces. Eleven teams have been assigned to assemble multicolored Legos using the written directions included in the packet. The result should be a Frankenstein figure.

Vanderbilt Nurse

Tucked away in a Vanderbilt conference room, 36 adults huddle over Lego pieces. Eleven teams have been assigned to assemble multicolored Legos using the written directions included in the packet. The result should be a Frankenstein figure.

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

Vanderbilt Medicine

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

One hundred years ago, multiple “waves” of a deadly flu swept across the world.

Vanderbilt Medicine

One hundred years ago, multiple “waves” of a deadly flu swept across the world.

more