Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance upgrade on Thursday 4th of May 2017 from 8.00am to 9.00am (BST).

During this time our websites will be offline temporarily. If you have any questions please use the feedback button on this page. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.


Issue 8-9, 2009
Previous Article Next Article

Spontaneous migration of cancer cells under conditions of mechanical confinement

Author affiliations

Abstract

When cancer cells spread away from the primary tumor, they often follow the trajectories of lymphatic vessels, nerves, white matter tracts, or other heterogeneous structures in tissues. To better understand this form of guided cell migration we designed a series of microfluidic devices that mechanically constrain migrating cancer cells inside microchannels with cross-section comparable to cell size. We observed unexpectedly fast and persistent movement in one direction for several hours of cancer cells of different types. The persistent motility occurs spontaneously, in the absence of external gradients, suggesting the presence of intrinsic mechanisms driving cancer cell motility that are induced in conditions of mechanical confinement. To probe the mechanisms responsible for this behavior, we exposed cancer cells inside channels to drugs targeting the microtubules, and measured a significant reduction in the average migration speed. Surprisingly, a small number of cells appeared not to be affected by the treatment and displayed fast and persistent migration, comparable to the untreated cells. The new matrix-free, 3D-confined motility assay replicates critical interactions that cancer cells would normally have inside tissues, is compatible with high-content, high-throughput analysis of cellular motility at single cell level, and could provide useful insights into the biology of cancer cell migratory phenotype.

Graphical abstract: Spontaneous migration of cancer cells under conditions of mechanical confinement

Back to tab navigation
Please wait while Download options loads

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 30 Apr 2009, accepted on 25 Jun 2009 and first published on 16 Jul 2009


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B908595E
Citation: Integr. Biol., 2009,1, 506-512
  •   Request permissions

    Spontaneous migration of cancer cells under conditions of mechanical confinement

    D. Irimia and M. Toner, Integr. Biol., 2009, 1, 506
    DOI: 10.1039/B908595E

Search articles by author