Daily application of low magnitude mechanical stimulus inhibits the growth of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells in vitro
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Introduction: Mechanical loads can regulate cell proliferation and differentiation at various stages of development and homeostasis. However, the extension of this regulatory effect of mechanical loads on cancer cells is largely unknown. Increased physical compliance is one of the key features of cancer cells, which may hamper the transmission of mechanical loads to these cells within tumor microenvironment. Here we tested whether brief daily application of an external low magnitude mechanical stimulus (LMMS), would impede the growth of MDA-MB-231 aggressive type breast cancer cells in vitro for 3 wks of growth. Methods: The signal was applied in oscillatory form at 90 Hz and 0.15 g, a regimen that would induce mechanical loads on MDA-MB-231 cells via inertial properties of cells rather than matrix deformations. Experimental cells were exposed to LMMS 15 min/day, 5 days/week in ambient conditions while control cells were sham loaded. Cell proliferation, viability, cycle, apoptosis, morphology and migration were tested via Trypan Blue dye exclusion, MTT, PI, Annexin V, Calcein-AM and phalloidin stains and scratch wound assays. Results: Compared to sham controls, daily application of LMMS reduced the number and viability of cancerous MDA-MB-231 cells significantly after first week in the culture, while non-cancerous MCF10A cells were found to be unaffected. Flow cytomety analyses suggested that the observed decrease for the cancer cells in the LMMS group was due to a cell cycle arrest rather than apoptosis. LMMS further reduced cancer cell circularity and increased cytoskeletal actin in MDA-MB-231 cells. Conclusion: Combined, results suggest that direct application of mechanical loads negatively regulate the proliferation of aggressive type cancer cells. If confirmed, this non-invasive approach may be integrated to the efforts for the prevention and/or treatment of cancer.