Scientists asked questions:
How do cancer cells polarize ion transport mechanisms at the leading and trailing edges of cells to move in tight spaces?
How do cancer cells optimize movement at high fluid viscosity?
To answer these important questions, they studied the movement of cells in three-dimensional bioengineered environments similar to the paths cells normally take in our bodies.
In a first study published in the journal Nature Communications, an international team discovered that cancer cells can move in confined spaces by taking water from the leading edge of the cell and releasing it from the trailing edge, says Miguel Valverde. -Author of the study.
In a second study published in the journal Nature, scientists examined how changes in viscosity in the cellular environment can affect the movement and behavior of cancer cells. Viscosity measures the resistance a liquid has to anything moving in or with it. It makes sense that inert particles move more slowly in high-viscosity media.
Now scientists have demonstrated what may seem like a strange effect: high viscosity promotes migration and invasion of tumor cells. “Cells in our bodies are constantly exposed to fluids of varying viscosities,” Valverde continues. By exposing cancer cells to high viscosities, they realized that the first cellular element to respond to this stimulus was the protein actin, which is part of the cytoskeleton and makes up the cell body. Also, many processes take place, the result of which is the strengthening of the cellular cytoskeleton and the activation of motor proteins.
As a result of all these changes, cells change their migration routes and no longer use the movement of water. Under these conditions, they use their cellular “skeleton and muscles” and interactions with the surrounding walls to move faster.