MBInfo is a community of interdisciplinary researchers and academics defining the field of Mechanobiology.
Since its inception as a wiki in 2009, MBInfo has grown into a hub of information that describes the latest findings and ideas on how the physical environment and mechanical forces influence life at all levels, from individual cells, to multicellular organisms.
WHAT IS MECHANOBIOLOGY?
Mechanobiology describes how physical factors, such as forces and mechanics, are able to influence biological systems at the molecular, cellular, and tissue level. The fundamental process which drives mechanobiology is mechanotransduction, the ability of cells to convert mechanical stimuli into biochemical signals. For example, a cell can sense and respond to the three-dimensional physical properties of its environment. These parameters include matrix density, geometry, and substrate rigidity. After sensing these mechanical stimuli, the cell can convert them into biochemical signals which enables specific cellular responses such as migration, proliferation, and differentiation.
PHYSIOLOGICAL RELEVANCE OF MECHANOBIOLOGY
Although mechanical forces are exerted and detected at molecular and cellular levels, their effects are noticeable on much larger scales. Mechanobiology drives tissue and organ development, and is necessary for efficient function of many systems in the human body. At the early stages of life, stem cell fate can be determined by substrate rigidity, and correct embryonic development depends on mechanical stresses. However, defects in mechanosensing and mechanotransduction can lead to several diseases. For example, the high motility of metastatic cancer cells means that they can detach from tumours, enter the bloodstream, and spread cancer throughout the body.