Primary cilia are sensory organelles that translate extracellular chemical and mechanical cues into cellular responses. Bone is an exquisitely mechanosensitive organ, and its homeostasis depends on the ability of bone cells to sense and respond to mechanical stimuli. One such stimulus is dynamic fluid flow, which triggers biochemical and transcriptional changes in bone cells by an unknown mechanism. Here we report that bone cells possess primary cilia that project from the cell surface and deflect during fluid flow and that these primary cilia are required for osteogenic and bone resorptive responses to dynamic fluid flow. We also show that, unlike in kidney cells, primary cilia in bone translate fluid flow into cellular responses in bone cells independently of Ca 2+ flux and stretch-activated ion channels. These results suggest that primary cilia might regulate homeostasis in diverse tissues by allowing mechanical signals to alter cellular activity via tissue-specific pathways. Our identification of a mechanism for mechanotransduction in bone could lead to therapeutic approaches for combating bone loss due to osteoporosis and disuse.
Recently fluid flow has been shown to be a potent physical stimulus in the regulation of bone cell metabolism. However, most investigators have applied steady or pulsing flow profiles rather than oscillatory fluid flow, which occurs in vivo because of mechanical loading. Here oscillatory fluid flow was demonstrated to be a potentially important physical signal for loading-induced changes in bone cell metabolism. We selected three well known biological response variables including intracellular calcium (Ca
Many biochemical factors regulating progenitor cell differentiation have been examined in detail; however, the role of the local mechanical environment on stem cell fate has only recently been investigated. In this study, we examined whether oscillatory fluid flow, an exogenous mechanical signal within bone, regulates osteogenic, adipogenic or chondrogenic differentiation of C3H10T1/2 murine mesenchymal stem cells by measuring Runx2, PPARγ and SOX9 gene expression, respectively. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the small GTPase RhoA and isometric tension within the actin cytoskeleton are essential in flow-induced differentiation. We found that oscillatory fluid flow induces the upregulation of Runx2, Sox9 and PPARγ, indicating that it has the potential to regulate transcription factors involved in multiple unique lineage pathways. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the small GTPase RhoA and its effector protein ROCKII regulate fluidflow-induced osteogenic differentiation. Additionally, activated RhoA and fluid flow have an additive effect on Runx2 expression. Finally, we show RhoA activation and actin tension are negative regulators of both adipogenic and chondrogenic differentiation. However, an intact, dynamic actin cytoskeleton under tension is necessary for flow-induced gene expression.
Bone tissue has the capacity to adapt to its functional environment such that its morphology is "optimized" for the mechanical demand. The adaptive nature of the skeleton poses an interesting set of biological questions (e.g., how does bone sense mechanical signals, what cells are the sensing system, what are the mechanical signals that drive the system, what receptors are responsible for transducing the mechanical signal, what are the molecular responses to the mechanical stimuli). Studies of the characteristics of the mechanical environment at the cellular level, the forces that bone cells recognize, and the integrated cellular responses are providing new information at an accelerating speed. This review first considers the mechanical factors that are generated by loading in the skeleton, including strain, stress and pressure. Mechanosensitive cells placed to recognize these forces in the skeleton, osteoblasts, osteoclasts, osteocytes and cells of the vasculature are reviewed. The identity of the mechanoreceptor(s) is approached, with consideration of ion channels, integrins, connexins, the lipid membrane including caveolar and noncaveolar lipid rafts and the possibility that altering cell shape at the membrane or cytoskeleton alters integral signaling protein associations. The distal intracellular signaling systems on-line after the mechanoreceptor is activated are reviewed, including those emanating from G-proteins (e.g., intracellular calcium shifts), MAPKs, and nitric oxide. The ability to harness mechanical signals to improve bone health through devices and exercise is broached. Increased appreciation of the importance of the mechanical environment in regulating and determining the structural efficacy of the skeleton makes this an exciting time for further exploration of this area.
The success of tissue engineering applications can potentially be dramatically improved with the addition of adjuncts that increase the proliferation and differentiation of progenitor or stem cells. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has recently emerged as a potential biologic tool to treat acute and chronic tendon disorders. The regenerative potential of PRP is based on the release of growth factors that occurs with platelet rupture. Its autologous nature gives it a significant advantage in tissue engineering applications. To test whether PRP may be useful specifically for cartilage regeneration, a cell culture experiment was devised in which mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were grown in control media or media enhanced with inactivated, buffered PRP. Proliferation 7 days after PRP treatment was increased: 1.041 versus 0.199 for the control media cells ( p < 0.001). The messenger RNA (mRNA) level of the osteogenic marker RUNX2 was 52.84 versus 26.88 for the control group ( p < 0.005). Likewise the mRNA level of the chondrogenic markers Sox-9 and aggrecan was 29.74 versus 2.29 for the control group ( p < 0.001) and 21.04 versus 1.93 ( p < 0.001), respectively. These results confirm that PRP enhances MSC proliferation and suggest that PRP causes chondrogenic differentiation of MSC in vitro.
Although it is well accepted that bone tissue metabolism is regulated by external mechanical loads, it remains unclear to what load-induced physical signals bone cells respond. In this study, a novel computer-controlled stretch device and parallel plate flow chamber were employed to investigate cytosolic calcium (Ca2+i) mobilization in response to a range of dynamic substrate strain levels (0.1-10 percent, 1 Hz) and oscillating fluid flow (2 N/m2, 1 Hz). In addition, we quantified the effect of dynamic substrate strain and oscillating fluid flow on the expression of mRNA for the bone matrix protein osteopontin (OPN). Our data demonstrate that continuum strain levels observed for routine physical activities (< 0.5 percent) do not induce Ca2+i responses in osteoblastic cells in vitro. However, there was a significant increase in the number of responding cells at larger strain levels. Moreover, we found no change in osteopontin mRNA level in response to 0.5 percent strain at 1 Hz. In contrast, oscillating fluid flow predicted to occur in the lacunar-canalicular system due to routine physical activities (2 N/m2, 1 Hz) caused significant increases in both Ca2+i and OPN mRNA. These data suggest that, relative to fluid flow, substrate deformation may play less of a role in bone cell mechanotransduction associated with bone adaptation to routine loads.
As a step towards developing a finite element model of the knee that can be used to study how the variables associated with a meniscal replacement affect tibio-femoral contact, the goals of this study were 1) to develop a geometrically accurate three-dimensional solid model of the knee joint with special attention given to the menisci and articular cartilage, 2) to determine to what extent bony deformations affect contact behavior, and 3) to determine whether constraining rotations other than flexion/extension affects the contact behavior of the joint during compressive loading. The model included both the cortical and trabecular bone of the femur and tibia, articular cartilage of the femoral condyles and tibial plateau, both the medial and lateral menisci with their horn attachments, the transverse ligament, the anterior cruciate ligament, and the medial collateral ligament. The solid models for the menisci and articular cartilage were created from surface scans provided by a noncontacting, laser-based, three-dimensional coordinate digitizing system with an root mean squared error (RMSE) of less than 8 microns. Solid models of both the tibia and femur were created from CT images, except for the most proximal surface of the tibia and most distal surface of the femur which were created with the three-dimensional coordinate digitizing system. The constitutive relation of the menisci treated the tissue as transversely isotropic and linearly elastic. Under the application of an 800 N compressive load at 0 degrees of flexion, six contact variables in each compartment (ie., medial and lateral) were computed including maximum pressure, mean pressure, contact area, total contact force, and coordinates of the center of pressure. Convergence of the finite element solution was studied using three mesh sizes ranging from an average element size of 5 mm by 5 mm to 1 mm by 1 mm. The solution was considered converged for an average element size of 2 mm by 2 mm. Using this mesh size, finite element solutions for rigid versus deformable bones indicated that none of the contact variables changed by more than 2% when the femur and tibia were treated as rigid. However, differences in contact variables as large as 19% occurred when rotations other than flexion/extension were constrained. The largest difference was in the maximum pressure. Among the principal conclusions of the study are that accurate finite element solutions of tibio-femoral contact behavior can be obtained by treating the bones as rigid. However, unrealistic constraints on rotations other than flexion/extension can result in relatively large errors in contact variables.
Wrist and ankle fractures are the most frequent causes of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS type I). The current study examined the temporal development of vascular, nociceptive and bony changes after distal tibial fracture in rats and compared these changes to those observed after cast immobilization in intact normal rats. After baseline testing the right distal tibial was fractured and the hindlimb casted. A control group was simply casted without fracturing the tibia. After 4 weeks the casts were removed and the rats retested. Subsequent testing was performed at 6, 8, 10, 16, and 20 weeks after onset of treatment. Distal tibial fracture or cast immobilization alone generated chronic hindlimb warmth, edema, spontaneous protein extravasation, allodynia, and periarticular osteoporosis, changes resembling those observed in CRPS. Hindlimb warmth and allodynia resolved much more quickly after cast immobilization than after fracture. Previously we observed that the substance P receptor (NK(1)) antagonist LY303870 reversed vascular and nociceptive changes in a sciatic section rat model of CRPS type II. Postulating that facilitated substance P signaling may also contribute to the vascular and nociceptive abnormalities observed after tibial fracture or cast immobilization, we attempted to reverse these changes with LY303870. Hindpaw warmth, spontaneous extravasation, edema, and allodynia were inhibited by LY303870. Collectively, these data support the hypotheses that the distal tibial fracture model simulates CRPS, immobilization alone can generate a syndrome resembling CRPS, and substance P signaling contributes to the vascular and nociceptive changes observed in these models.
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