A snap-through instability of cell adhesion under perturbations in hydrostatic pressure

Shaobao Liu, Haiqian Yang, Guang Kui Xu, Jingbo Wu, Ru Tao, Meng Wang, Rongyan He, Yulong Han, Guy M. Genin, Tian Jian Lu, Feng Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105476
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Bistability
  • Mechanomedicine
  • Metastasis
  • Morphology
  • Tumor microenvironment


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