Cells move their way to wound healing- A new discovery
Whenever we get a wound or an injury, the body reacts to it and sends a whole army of cells to mend what’s not in the place. A group of cells, come rushing to the site of injury and start to heal the wound. This mass movement of cells takes place to heal all wounds. For cells as tightly packed in the epithelial layers, this is an astounding feature.
This collective cell movement is enabled by readjustments between cells and its neighbours. But what has got scientists around the globe wondering is, how does it happen? What drives the mass cell movement?
“If we can understand the key factors causing cell migration, then we could perhaps develop new treatments to speed up wound healing”, said Jacob Notbohm, assistant professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
They found that the dominant factor which influences the cell shape is, the force which each cell applies beneath it to its neighbouring cells. This is called traction. And this is what helps the cell to maintain its shape, and travel to places as well.
Cells of the elongated shapes, find it easier to travel, as their shape allows them to slide past their neighbouring cells. Whereas, the cells off circular shape, are tightly packed together and find it difficult to exchange positions with their neighbours. The shape of the cell is dominantly affected by the forces of the periphery cells.
Notbohm and Saraswathibhatla performed experiments in the laboratory, using fluorescent imaging to evaluate forces at the periphery of each cell in a single layer of epithelial cells. The cells were placed on a soft gel surface and then analyzed how the gel was deformed as cells travelled across it. The gel test permitted them to measure traction, or how strongly the cells hauled on the surface. Also, the changes were studied by increasing or decreasing the forces, through chemicals.
He said “This was quite surprising because the key factors affecting a cell’s perimeter are underneath the cell. They are nowhere near the periphery of the cell.”
The importance of this discovery is immense, as it leads us to a better understanding of the cell movement and their rearrangement.
Further, he said “The good news is the general phenomena of the models is still correct. This discovery just changes our understanding of the theory.”
It will further advance our knowledge about wound healing, and incoming future may let us speed up the wound healing process, thus eventually benefiting mankind at large.
Source: University of Wisconsin System