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Living cells behave like fluid-filled sponges

y, lead author of the paper from the LCN said: "In the cardiovascular system, some tissues encounter extreme mechanical conditions. Heart valves can typically withstand 7-fold increases in their length in less than one second. The poroelastic nature of cells may allow them to behave similarly to shock absorbers when exposed to these extreme mechanical conditions."

To experimentally verify the fluid-filled sponge model, researchers manipulated the size of the cellular pores using chemical and genetic tools and showed that the rate of cellular deformation was affected by the pore size, as suggested by the theory of poroelasticity.

Guillaume Charras, senior co-author of the paper from the LCN said: "Cells can detect the mechanical forces they are subjected to and modify their behaviour accordingly. How changes in the mechanical environment are converted into biochemical information that the cell can interpret remains unknown. A better understanding of the physics of the cellular material is a first step towards formulating possible mechanisms through which this could occur."


Contact: Clare Ryan
University College London

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