Force Transmission in Disordered Fibre Networks

José Ruiz-Franco*, Jasper van Der Gucht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Cells residing in living tissues apply forces to their immediate surroundings to promote the restructuration of the extracellular matrix fibres and to transmit mechanical signals to other cells. Here we use a minimalist model to study how these forces, applied locally by cell contraction, propagate through the fibrous network in the extracellular matrix. In particular, we characterize how the transmission of forces is influenced by the connectivity of the network and by the bending rigidity of the fibers. For highly connected fiber networks the stresses spread out isotropically around the cell over a distance that first increases with increasing contraction of the cell and then saturates at a characteristic length. For lower connectivity, however, the stress pattern is highly asymmetric and is characterised by force chains that can transmit stresses over very long distances. We hope that our analysis of force transmission in fibrous networks can provide a new avenue for future studies on how the mechanical feedback between the cell and the ECM is coupled with the microscopic environment around the cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number931776
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022


  • bending rigidity
  • connectivity
  • fiber networks
  • force transmission
  • graph theory
  • local stresses


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