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    Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the most prevalent cell types within the tumor microenvironment (TME). While several physicochemical cues from the TME, including growth factors, cytokines, and ECM specificity, have been identified as essential factors for CAF activation, the precise mechanism of how the ECM architecture regulates CAF initiation remains elusive. Using a gelatin-based electrospun fiber mesh, we examined the effect of matrix fiber density on CAF activation induced by MCF-7 conditioned media (CM). A less dense (3D) gelatin mesh matrix facilitated better activation of dermal fibroblasts into a CAF-like phenotype in the CM than a highly dense (3D) gelatin mesh matrix. In addition, it was discovered that CAF activation on the less dense (LD) matrix is dependent on the cell size-related AKT/mTOR signaling cascade, accompanied by an increase in intracellular tension within the well-spread fibroblasts.


    Somayadineshraj Devarasou, Minwoo Kang, Tae Yoon Kwon, Youngbin Cho, Jennifer H Shin. Fibrous Matrix Architecture-Dependent Activation of Fibroblasts with a Cancer-Associated Fibroblast-like Phenotype. ACS biomaterials science & engineering. 2023 Jan 09;9(1):280-291

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    PMID: 36573928

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