Advances in cancer mechanobiology: Metastasis, mechanics, and materials. Academic Article uri icon


  • Within the tumor microenvironment (TME), tumor cells are exposed to numerous mechanical forces, both internally and externally, which contribute to the metastatic cascade. From the initial growth of the tumor to traveling through the vasculature and to the eventual colonization of distant organs, tumor cells are continuously interacting with their surroundings through physical contact and mechanical force application. The mechanical forces found in the TME can be simplified into three main categories: (i) shear stress, (ii) tension and strain, and (iii) solid stress and compression. Each force type can independently impact tumor growth and progression. Here, we review recent bioengineering strategies, which have been employed to establish the connection between mechanical forces and tumor progression. While many cancers are explored in this review, we place great emphasis on cancers that are understudied in their response to mechanical forces, such as ovarian and colorectal cancers. We discuss the major steps of metastatic transformation and present novel, recent advances in model systems used to study how mechanical forces impact the study of the metastatic cascade. We end by summarizing systems that incorporate multiple forces to expand the complexity of our understanding of how tumor cells sense and respond to mechanical forces in their environment. Future studies would also benefit from the inclusion of time or the aspect of mechanical memory to further enhance this field. While the knowledge of mechanical forces and tumor metastasis grows, developing novel materials and in vitro systems are essential to providing new insight into predicting, treating, and preventing cancer progression and metastasis.

published proceedings

  • APL Bioeng

altmetric score

  • 9.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Clevenger, A. J., McFarlin, M. K., Gorley, J., Solberg, S. C., Madyastha, A. K., & Raghavan, S. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Clevenger, Abigail J||McFarlin, Maygan K||Gorley, John Paul M||Solberg, Spencer C||Madyastha, Anirudh K||Raghavan, Shreya A

publication date

  • March 2024