The balance between stress and adhesion governs many behaviors of adherent cells such as cell migration. In certain microenvironments such as that of a tumor, variations in hydrostatic pressure be substantial compared to cell-generated stresses. These variations can affect stress-activated ion channels whose activation can in turn affect cell volume and adhesion. To study these effects, we developed a theoretical model to relate changes in hydrostatic pressure to the morphology and volume of adherent cells. The model predicted the bistability of cell morphology (i.e., a snap-through instability) under hydrostatic pressure for certain ranges of adhesion energy density. This snap-through instability can enable cells to spontaneously detach from their environment, and may have bearing on migration and metastasis.
- Tumor microenvironment