Research Topic

Adaptive Mechanics of In-Vitro Cellular Models

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic aims to tackle some of the most challenging questions in the complex mechanics of living matter: how cells respond dynamically to mechanical cues of their surroundings, and to what extent these stimuli modulate both the physiology and cell structure, as well as shape the cells’ active responses.

Since the turn of the century, cell mechanics has been a topic of increasing scientific interest and intensive research. This continuous effort has led to revealing discoveries, namely that cell type and tumour cell malignancy can have distinctive mechanical signatures, and that the mechanical properties of the environment can affect cellular organisation, differentiation and function. At the larger scale, emphasis has been placed on the tribological characterisation of animal tissues as material models for the study of tissue resilience, degradation, and response to treatments.

This Research Topic goes beyond the characterisation of living cells by single mechanical parameters such as elasticity, fluidity or compliance that reflect the structural response of inanimate matter to stimuli. It aims to collect an integrative body of experimental evidence and mechanistic views for the mechano-adaptive responses of single cells and cellular assemblies at spatio-temporal scales that are physiologically relevant; it also provides insight into the biological role of friction and shear stimuli in triggering mechanical and physiological responses at the cellular level, and in modulating or inducing cell-cell adhesion. In doing so, the goal is to contribute to a more profound and thorough understanding of the mechanical behaviour of living matter.

From the materials point of view, cells are unique examples of active and living matter. They are capable of sensing and responding to mechanical forces, among other physical and chemical stimuli, in multiple ways and across spatio-temporal scales, from the nano- to the micrometre, and from the millisecond to the hour. This capacity either induces or results from biophysical and biochemical processes that involve key molecules, cellular organelles and structures. The cells’ behavioural variability contrasts with a structure and geometry that are relatively simple when compared to multicellular organisms, tissues and organs. This simplicity of form makes single cells useful as living models of mechanical behaviour.

The Research Topic may include recent advances and novel efforts in:

Experiment: Methods and/or protocols for the simultaneous detection, as well as findings of interconnected dynamic processes related to cellular mechano-sensing and/or mechano-adaptation at the physiologically relevant spatio-temporal scales.

Theory/Simulation: Mathematical and computational frameworks that quantitatively explain and/or provide a molecular mechanism for the complex and active mechanics of living matter at the relevant spatio-temporal scales.

Data analysis and interpretation: Interdisciplinary approaches that combine numerical treatments of experimental data, theory and/or simulation, and the physical, mathematical, chemical and biological points of view.

Cellular models may be single cells, 2D and 3D cell assemblies (e.g., monolayers, spheroids, organoids, cell-seeded scaffolds).


Keywords: cell mechanics, mechanobiology, mechanosensing, mechanotransduction, cell tribology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

This Research Topic aims to tackle some of the most challenging questions in the complex mechanics of living matter: how cells respond dynamically to mechanical cues of their surroundings, and to what extent these stimuli modulate both the physiology and cell structure, as well as shape the cells’ active responses.

Since the turn of the century, cell mechanics has been a topic of increasing scientific interest and intensive research. This continuous effort has led to revealing discoveries, namely that cell type and tumour cell malignancy can have distinctive mechanical signatures, and that the mechanical properties of the environment can affect cellular organisation, differentiation and function. At the larger scale, emphasis has been placed on the tribological characterisation of animal tissues as material models for the study of tissue resilience, degradation, and response to treatments.

This Research Topic goes beyond the characterisation of living cells by single mechanical parameters such as elasticity, fluidity or compliance that reflect the structural response of inanimate matter to stimuli. It aims to collect an integrative body of experimental evidence and mechanistic views for the mechano-adaptive responses of single cells and cellular assemblies at spatio-temporal scales that are physiologically relevant; it also provides insight into the biological role of friction and shear stimuli in triggering mechanical and physiological responses at the cellular level, and in modulating or inducing cell-cell adhesion. In doing so, the goal is to contribute to a more profound and thorough understanding of the mechanical behaviour of living matter.

From the materials point of view, cells are unique examples of active and living matter. They are capable of sensing and responding to mechanical forces, among other physical and chemical stimuli, in multiple ways and across spatio-temporal scales, from the nano- to the micrometre, and from the millisecond to the hour. This capacity either induces or results from biophysical and biochemical processes that involve key molecules, cellular organelles and structures. The cells’ behavioural variability contrasts with a structure and geometry that are relatively simple when compared to multicellular organisms, tissues and organs. This simplicity of form makes single cells useful as living models of mechanical behaviour.

The Research Topic may include recent advances and novel efforts in:

Experiment: Methods and/or protocols for the simultaneous detection, as well as findings of interconnected dynamic processes related to cellular mechano-sensing and/or mechano-adaptation at the physiologically relevant spatio-temporal scales.

Theory/Simulation: Mathematical and computational frameworks that quantitatively explain and/or provide a molecular mechanism for the complex and active mechanics of living matter at the relevant spatio-temporal scales.

Data analysis and interpretation: Interdisciplinary approaches that combine numerical treatments of experimental data, theory and/or simulation, and the physical, mathematical, chemical and biological points of view.

Cellular models may be single cells, 2D and 3D cell assemblies (e.g., monolayers, spheroids, organoids, cell-seeded scaffolds).


Keywords: cell mechanics, mechanobiology, mechanosensing, mechanotransduction, cell tribology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

05 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

05 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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