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Biomechanical and biomolecular characterization of extracellular matrix structures in human colon carcinomas

: Brauchle, Eva; Kasper, Jana; Daum, Ruben; Schierbaum, Nicolas; Falch, Claudius; Kirschniak, Andreas; Schäffer, Tilman E; Schenke-Layland, Katja

Volltext ()

Matrix biology 68-69 (2018), S.180-193
ISSN: 0945-053X
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IGB ()
atomic force microscopy; colon cancer; extracellular matrix; Glycosaminoglycans; raman spectroscopy; tissue mechanic

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is extensively remodeled in tumor tissues. Overproduction of collagens, pathological collagen crosslinking and alignment of fibers are major processes that ultimately result in an increased tissue stiffness. Although it is known that glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) play an important role in tumor signaling, their contribution to the biomechanical properties of tumor ECM is unknown. In this study, ECM structures of human colon carcinoma and normal (control) colon tissues were histologically identified. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) nanoindentation, we show that the collagen-rich regions within the ECM of colon carcinoma tissues were significantly stiffer than the submucosal collagen-rich layer of control tissues. Screening of these regions with Raman microspectroscopy revealed significantly different molecular fingerprints for collagen fibers in colon carcinoma tissues compared to control tissues. We further showed an increased alignment of collagen fibers and elevated levels of GAG immuno-reactivity within the collagen network of colon carcinoma tissues. GAGs such as heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate were detected in significantly elevated levels in collagen fibers of carcinoma tissues. Moreover, immunodetection of the collagen-associated proteoglycan decorin was significantly decreased in carcinomas tissues of individual patients when compared with the corresponding control tissues. Overall a strong patient-to-patient variability was evident in the ECM composition, structure and biomechanics of individual colon carcinoma tissues. Although, biomechanical characteristics of tumor ECM were not directly impacted by GAG content, GAGs might play an important role during the mechanical and structural remodeling of pathological tumor ECM. To manipulate GAG expression and deposition in tumor microenvironments could represent a novel potential therapeutic strategy.