Because bone marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSCs) are able to generate many cell types, they are envisioned as source of regenerative cells to repair numerous tissues, including bone, cartilage, and ligaments. Success of BMSC-based therapies, however, relies on a number of methodological improvements, among which better understanding and control of the BMSC differentiation pathways. Since many years, the biochemical environment is known to govern BMSC differentiation, but more recent evidences show that the biomechanical environment is also directing cell functions. Using in vitro systems that aim to reproduce selected components of the in vivo mechanical environment, it was demonstrated that mechanical loadings can affect BMSC proliferation and improve the osteogenic, chondrogenic, or myogenic phenotype of BMSCs. These effects, however, seem to be modulated by parameters other than mechanics, such as substrate nature or soluble biochemical environment. This paper reviews and discusses recent experimental data showing that despite some knowledge limitation, mechanical stimulation already constitutes an additional and efficient tool to drive BMSC differentiation.
Intervertebral disc metabolic transport is essential to the functional spine and provides the cells with the nutrients necessary to tissue maintenance. Disc degenerative changes alter the tissue mechanics, but interactions between mechanical loading and disc transport are still an open issue. A poromechanical finite element model of the human disc was coupled with oxygen and lactate transport models. Deformations and fluid flow were linked to transport predictions by including strain-dependent diffusion and advection. The two solute transport models were also coupled to account for cell metabolism. With this approach, the relevance of metabolic and mechano-transport couplings were assessed in the healthy disc under loading-recovery daily compression. Disc height, cell density and material degenerative changes were parametrically simulated to study their influence on the calculated solute concentrations. The effects of load frequency and amplitude were also studied in the healthy disc by considering short periods of cyclic compression. Results indicate that external loads influence the oxygen and lactate regional distributions within the disc when large volume changes modify diffusion distances and diffusivities, especially when healthy disc properties are simulated. Advection was negligible under both sustained and cyclic compression. Simulating degeneration, mechanical changes inhibited the mechanical effect on transport while disc height, fluid content, nucleus pressure and overall cell density reductions affected significantly transport predictions. For the healthy disc, nutrient concentration patterns depended mostly on the time of sustained compression and recovery. The relevant effect of cell density on the metabolic transport indicates the disturbance of cell number as a possible onset for disc degeneration via alteration of the metabolic balance. Results also suggest that healthy disc properties have a positive effect of loading on metabolic transport. Such relation, relevant to the maintenance of the tissue functional composition, would therefore link disc function with disc nutrition.
The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a complex and heterogeneous protruding structure of the left atrium (LA). In atrial fibrillation patients, it is the location where 90% of the thrombi are formed. However, the role of the LAA in thrombus formation is not fully known yet. The main goal of this work is to perform a sensitivity analysis to identify the most relevant LA and LAA morphological parameters in atrial blood flow dynamics. Simulations were run on synthetic ellipsoidal left atria models where different parameters were individually studied: pulmonary veins and mitral valve dimensions; LAA shape; and LA volume. Our computational analysis confirmed the relation between large LAA ostia, low blood flow velocities and thrombus formation. Additionally, we found that pulmonary vein configuration exerted a critical influence on LAA blood flow patterns. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the LAA and to support clinical decisions for atrial fibrillation patients.
The present paper provides the first sets of thoroughly identified BEP parameter values that can be further used in patient-specific poromechanical studies. Representing BEP structural changes through variations in poromechanical properties did not affect the diffusion of metabolites. However, attention might be paid to alterations in fluid velocities and cell mechano-sensing within the CEP.
Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is a major risk factor of low back pain. It is defined by a progressive loss of the IVD structure and functionality, leading to severe impairments with restricted treatment options due to the highly demanding mechanical exposure of the IVD. Degenerative changes in the IVD usually increase with age but at an accelerated rate in some individuals. To understand the initiation and progression of this disease, it is crucial to identify key top-down and bottom-up regulations’ processes, across the cell, tissue, and organ levels, in health and disease. Owing to unremitting investigation of experimental research, the comprehension of detailed cell signaling pathways and their effect on matrix turnover significantly rose. Likewise, in silico research substantially contributed to a holistic understanding of spatiotemporal effects and complex, multifactorial interactions within the IVD. Together with important achievements in the research of biomaterials, manifold promising approaches for regenerative treatment options were presented over the last years. This review provides an integrative analysis of the current knowledge about (1) the multiscale function and regulation of the IVD in health and disease, (2) the possible regenerative strategies, and (3) the in silico models that shall eventually support the development of advanced therapies.
Cellular responses to chemical cues are at the core of a myriad of fundamental biological processes ranging from embryonic development to cancer metastasis. Most of these biological processes are also influenced by mechanical cues such as the stiffness of the extracellular matrix. How a biological function is influenced by a synergy between chemical concentration and extracellular matrix stiffness is largely unknown, however, because no current strategy enables the integration of both types of cues in a single experiment. Here we present a robust microfluidic device that generates a stable, linear and diffusive chemical gradient over a biocompatible hydrogel with a well-defined stiffness gradient. Device fabrication relies on patterned PSA (Pressure Sensitive Adhesive) stacks that can be implemented with minimal cost and lab equipment. This technique is suitable for long-term observation of cell migration and application of traction force microscopy. We validate our device by testing MDCK cell scattering in response to perpendicular gradients of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and substrate stiffness.
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