Unravel the Role of ECM Mechanobiology in Fibrosis

Industry-Sponsored Symposium of the Extracellular Matrix Pharmacology Congress 2024

On Monday, June 17, the Extracellular Matrix Pharmacology Congress 2024 will convene, bringing together leading scientists and clinicians to explore the intricate roles of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in health and disease. This year’s congress promises a comprehensive agenda filled with insightful talks, presentations, and poster sessions on various topics related to ECM.

One anticipated highlight is Dr. Luca Bersanini‘s keynote address (1605 – 1620 hrs CET) from Optics11 Life, “Unravel the Role of ECM Mechanobiology in Fibrosis“. Fibrosis, a condition where normal tissue is replaced by scar tissue, can impair any organ and lead to serious health issues. Dr. Bersanini’s presentation will delve into how the ECM influences the development of fibrosis, providing new insights into this complex process.

Healthy and fibrotic tissues exhibit distinct mechanical properties and microscopic structures. Healthy tissue is typically soft and elastic, while fibrotic tissue is stiffer and more rigid due to an excessive accumulation of ECM proteins. Microscopically, healthy tissue displays a well-organized structure, whereas fibrotic tissue appears disorganized, with cells embedded in a dense network of ECM fibers. These differences are crucial as they significantly affect tissue function.

Figure 1. (a) Schematic representation of the experiment: X-ray radiotherapy is used to induce actinic cystitis on the bladder. Rats are sacrificed at different time points ant tissue elasticity is assessed. (b) Representative bladder wall stiffness gradient collected with the nanoindenter at month 4: X-ray causes a stiffening of the whole bladder wall compared to non-treated healthy animals. Mechanical spatial differences within the fibrotic bladder are maintained and associated to the different tissue layers (U: urothelium, L: lamina propria, M: muscle). (c) Kinetics of YM from X-ray radiated bladders at different time points (red) and comparison to healthy animals of the same age (grey) measured both with Chiaro nanoindenter and AFM. N = 3 rats per time point and condition, each tissue layer of each single rat was characterized by over 3000 force curve measurements. Data shown are logarithm in base 10 of YM’s (in Pa).

Dr. Bersanini addresses the technique of nanoindentation, a specialized technique used to measure the mechanical properties of biological samples. This technique, akin to a specific mode of atomic force microscopy (AFM), involves pressing a cantilever into the sample with controlled force. Analyzing the resulting force-displacement curve allows researchers to measure stiffness, viscoelasticity and adhesive properties—key indicators of tissue health.

Figure 2. (a) Map of the mechanical properties of a spheroid. (b) Elasticity map (log10 scale) of PAA hydrogel in a 96 wellplate, used as ECM-mimicking substrates.

Exploring how alterations in the ECM contribute to fibrosis development, Dr. Bersanini will shed light on potential new pre-clinical screening avenues. His presentation will emphasize the ECM’s critical role in cell communication, migration, and differentiation, suggesting that targeting ECM micro-mechanical changes could mitigate fibrosis.

The Extracellular Matrix Pharmacology Congress 2024 offers attendees a unique opportunity to engage with the latest research, fostering discussions and collaborations that could drive breakthroughs in ECM-related diseases. The congress provides an invaluable forum for those keen to delve deeper into this vital area of biomedical research.

Interested to learn more about the mechanobiology of ECM and fibrosis? Read the ECM white paper and fibrosis application note now!

Dr. Luca Bersanini is a seasoned professional with a robust background in medical communication, molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics. He has a strong interest in innovation and has been recognized with prestigious grants. Dr. Bersanini has published high-impact papers and has been a speaker at numerous scientific conferences. Dr. Bersanini’s academic credentials include a PhD with honors from the University of Turku, and an EMBO postdoctoral fellowship at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He currently works as Senior Product Specialist at Optics11 Life.

To learn more about the Extracellular Matrix Pharmacology Congress 2024, please visit the conference website. For those wishing to arrange a personal meeting with Dr. Luca Bersanini during the congress, please book an in-person meeting with this LINK to discuss the latest advancements in ECM mechanobiology.

Martinez-Vidal, L., Chighizola, M., Berardi, M. et al. Micro-mechanical fingerprints of the rat bladder change in actinic cystitis and tumor presence. Commun Biol 6, 217 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-04572-0

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