Abstract

Cells within the lung microenvironment are continuously subjected to dynamic mechanical stimuli which is converted into biochemical signaling events in a process known as mechanotransduction. In pulmonary diseases, the abrogated mechanical conditions modify the homeostatic signaling which influences cellular phenotype and disease progression. The use of in vitro models has significantly expanded our understanding of lung mechanotransduction mechanisms. However, our ability to match complex facets of the lung including three dimensionality, multicellular interactions, and multiple simultaneous forces is limited and it has proven difficult to replicate and control these factors in vitro. The goal of this review is to a) outline the anatomy of the pulmonary system and the mechanical stimuli that reside therein, b) describe how disease impacts the mechanical microenvironment of the lung and c) summarize how existing in vitro models have contributed to our current understanding of pulmonary mechanotransduction. We also highlight critical needs in the pulmonary mechanotransduction field with an emphasis on next generation devices that can simulate the complex mechanical and cellular environment of the lung. This review provides a comprehensive basis for understanding the current state of knowledge in pulmonary mechanotransduction and identifying the areas for future research.

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