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Changing cell mechanics - a precondition for malignant transformation of oral squamous carcinoma cells

: Meinhövel, F.; Stange, R.; Schnauß, J.; Sauer, M.; Käs, J.A.; Remmerbach, T.W.


Convergent science physical oncology 4 (2018), No.3, Art. 034001, 9 pp.
ISSN: 2057-1739
Physics of Cancer Symposium <2017, Leipzig>
Journal Article, Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IZI ()

Oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are the sixth most common cancer and the diagnosis is often belated for a curative treatment. The reliable and early differentiation between healthy and diseased cells is the main aim of this study in order to improve the quality of the treatment and to understand tumour pathogenesis. Here, the optical stretcher is used to analyse mechanical properties of cells and their potential to serve as a marker for malignancy. Stretching experiments revealed for the first time that cells of primary OSCCs were deformed by 2.9% rendering them softer than cells of healthy mucosa which were deformed only by 1.9%. Furthermore, the relaxation behaviour of the cells revealed that these malignant cells exhibit a faster contraction than their benign counterparts. This suggests that deformability as well as relaxation behaviour can be used as distinct parameters to evaluate emerging differences between these benign and malignant cells. Since many studies in cancer research are performed with cancer cell lines rather than primary cells, we have compared the deformability and relaxation of both types, showing that long time culturing leads to softening of cells. The higher degree of deformability and relaxation behaviour can enable cancer cells to traverse tissue emphasizing that changes in cell architecture may be a potential precondition for malignant transformation. Respecting the fact that even short culture times have an essential effect on the significance of the results, the use of primary cells for further research is recommended. The distinction between malignant and benign cells would enable an early confirmation of cancer diagnoses by testing cell samples of suspect oral lesions.