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Kretschmer, Maibritt; Ruediger, Daniel and Zahler, Stefan (2021): Mechanical Aspects of Angiogenesis. In: Cancers, Vol. 13, No. 19, 4987

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Angiogenesis is of high clinical relevance as it plays a crucial role in physiological (e.g., tissue regeneration) and pathological processes (e.g., tumor growth). Besides chemical signals, such as VEGF, the relationship between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) can influence endothelial cell behavior during angiogenesis. Previously, in terms of the connection between angiogenesis and mechanical factors, researchers have focused on shear forces due to blood flow. However, it is becoming increasingly important to include the direct influence of the ECM on biological processes, such as angiogenesis. In this context, we focus on the stiffness of the surrounding ECM and the adhesion of cells to the ECM. Furthermore, we highlight the mechanical cues during the main stages of angiogenesis: cell migration, tip and stalk cells, and vessel stabilization. It becomes clear that the different stages of angiogenesis require various chemical and mechanical cues to be modulated by/modulate the stiffness of the ECM. Thus, changes of the ECM during tumor growth represent additional potential dysregulations of angiogenesis in addition to erroneous biochemical signals. This awareness could be the basis of therapeutic approaches to counteract specific processes in tumor angiogenesis.

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