Atomic Force Microscopy Probing of Cancer Cells and Tumor Microenvironment Components
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Cancer cells have different characteristics from normal cells in terms of morphology, cell–cell interactions, cytoskeleton organization, cell growth rates, and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Although the clarification of these characteristics is crucial for the effective development of new therapeutic strategies, they remain poorly identified. Furthermore, tumor microenvironment plays a crucial role in cancer progression and metastasis, and thus, it is of utmost importance to decode and fully understand the crosstalk and the interactions between its different components. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is an established and multifunctional tool in biomedical sciences with many applications in cancer research. In this review, we discuss the use of AFM in the study of cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment. We first provide a brief overview of AFM operating principles highlighting its contribution to the study of cancer and stromal cells. Next, we present research on the use of AFM in the study of cell-tumor microenvironment interactions during cancer cell migration and invasion. Finally, we discuss the development of coupled AFM modalities and the combination of different kinds of imaging with AFM that have been applied to cancer research. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.