Researchers biophysics at University of Wisconsin in the United States, have shown how microscopic defects in the way that line healthy cells can alter the ease with which the cells of ovarian cancer invade tissues and metastasize, as published in the journal ‘APL Bioengineering’.
The ovarian cancer is characterized by its tendency to evade detection and submitted after metastatic spread, so that a key element to slow metastasis would understand the mechanisms of how tumor cells invade the tissues.
Using an experimental model in which the cell composition mimics the lining of the abdominal cavity, the group discovered that alterations in normal cell arrangement, called topological defects, affect the invasion rate of tumor cells.
“My laboratory is very interested in identifying ways to stop metastasis. This study is exciting, because it shows that the organization of non-tumor cells plays a unique role in helping or slowing down this process,” says author Pamela Kreeger. – Identifying the factors that regulate this organization could help us achieve our goal. “
Topological defects are well known in the world of physics, from quantum field theory to cosmological phenomena, but they are only beginning to find use in medicine and biology.
The group’s model consisted of a single layer of healthy cells, called mesothelial cells, the predominant cell type that lines structures inside the abdomen, where ovarian cancer often metastasizes.
“A common way to fill in the space is a honeycomb packing, in which each ‘cell’ would be almost spherical – explains the author Jacob Notbohm -. But in our case, the mesothelial cells were elongated , so honeycomb packing was not possible. “
This elongation resulted in well-ordered cell layer areas and left other areas with alignment imperfections, leading to topological defects. These alignment defects have been associated with a number of microscopic influences, such as altered cell density, movement, and forces.
They seeded ovarian cancer cells on the mesothelial cell layer and compared the effect that the arrangement of the mesothelial cells had on the passage of the tumor T cells through this barrier.
Cell flow patterns were different near the defects, with certain defects causing inward cell flow toward the center of the defect . In these inward flow sites, cancer cells crossed the mesothelial barrier more slowly.
In addition to looking for the impact of topographic organization on cancer cell metastasis, the group is trying to investigate the cause of topological defects, hoping to find ways to direct the cell pattern in uses, such as tissue engineering.