Nanotechnology

Homotypic and heterotypic adhesion of cancer cells revealed by force-induced remnant magnetization spectroscopy


Intercellular interaction has tremendous impacts on physiological processes, while unsuccessful cell–cell interaction causes diseases, such as tumorigenesis and metastasis. In-depth investigation of cell–cell adhesions is of great significance to understand the pathological state of cells, and for the rational design of drugs and therapies. Herein, we developed a force-induced remnant magnetization spectroscopy (FIRMS) method to measure cell–cell adhesion in a high throughput way. Our results showed that FIRMS is capable of quantifying and identifying cell–cell adhesion with high detection efficiency. Specifically, we quantified homotypic and heterotypic adhesion forces during tumor metastasis using breast cancer cell lines. We observed that homotypic and heterotypic adhesion forces of cancer cells were associated with degrees of malignancy. In addition, we revealed that CD43-ICAM-1 was a ligand–receptor pair mediating heterotypic adhesion of breast cancer cells to endothelial cells. These findings contribute to advance in-depth understanding of the process of cancer metastasis and provide insight into targeting intercellular adhesion molecules as a potential strategy to inhibit cancer metastasis.

Graphical abstract: Homotypic and heterotypic adhesion of cancer cells revealed by force-induced remnant magnetization spectroscopy