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1.  Dynamic Manipulation of Hydrogels to Control Cell Behavior: A Review 
For many tissue engineering applications and studies to understand how materials fundamentally affect cellular functions, it is important to have the ability to synthesize biomaterials that can mimic elements of native cell–extracellular matrix interactions. Hydrogels possess many properties that are desirable for studying cell behavior. For example, hydrogels are biocompatible and can be biochemically and mechanically altered by exploiting the presentation of cell adhesive epitopes or by changing hydrogel crosslinking density. To establish physical and biochemical tunability, hydrogels can be engineered to alter their properties upon interaction with external driving forces such as pH, temperature, electric current, as well as exposure to cytocompatible irradiation. Additionally, hydrogels can be engineered to respond to enzymes secreted by cells, such as matrix metalloproteinases and hyaluronidases. This review details different strategies and mechanisms by which biomaterials, specifically hydrogels, can be manipulated dynamically to affect cell behavior. By employing the appropriate combination of stimuli and hydrogel composition and architecture, cell behavior such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, and differentiation can be controlled in real time. This three-dimensional control in cell behavior can help create programmable cell niches that can be useful for fundamental cell studies and in a variety of tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3826471  PMID: 23541134
2.  Engineering Functional Epithelium for Regenerative Medicine and In Vitro Organ Models: A Review 
Recent advances in the fields of microfabrication, biomaterials, and tissue engineering have provided new opportunities for developing biomimetic and functional tissues with potential applications in disease modeling, drug discovery, and replacing damaged tissues. An intact epithelium plays an indispensable role in the functionality of several organs such as the trachea, esophagus, and cornea. Furthermore, the integrity of the epithelial barrier and its degree of differentiation would define the level of success in tissue engineering of other organs such as the bladder and the skin. In this review, we focus on the challenges and requirements associated with engineering of epithelial layers in different tissues. Functional epithelial layers can be achieved by methods such as cell sheets, cell homing, and in situ epithelialization. However, for organs composed of several tissues, other important factors such as (1) in vivo epithelial cell migration, (2) multicell-type differentiation within the epithelium, and (3) epithelial cell interactions with the underlying mesenchymal cells should also be considered. Recent successful clinical trials in tissue engineering of the trachea have highlighted the importance of a functional epithelium for long-term success and survival of tissue replacements. Hence, using the trachea as a model tissue in clinical use, we describe the optimal structure of an artificial epithelium as well as challenges of obtaining a fully functional epithelium in macroscale. One of the possible remedies to address such challenges is the use of bottom-up fabrication methods to obtain a functional epithelium. Modular approaches for the generation of functional epithelial layers are reviewed and other emerging applications of microscale epithelial tissue models for studying epithelial/mesenchymal interactions in healthy and diseased (e.g., cancer) tissues are described. These models can elucidate the epithelial/mesenchymal tissue interactions at the microscale and provide the necessary tools for the next generation of multicellular engineered tissues and organ-on-a-chip systems.
PMCID: PMC3826472  PMID: 23705900
3.  Monitoring Cartilage Tissue Engineering Using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Elastography 
A key technical challenge in cartilage tissue engineering is the development of a noninvasive method for monitoring the composition, structure, and function of the tissue at different growth stages. Due to its noninvasive, three-dimensional imaging capabilities and the breadth of available contrast mechanisms, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques can be expected to play a leading role in assessing engineered cartilage. In this review, we describe the new MR-based tools (spectroscopy, imaging, and elastography) that can provide quantitative biomarkers for cartilage tissue development both in vitro and in vivo. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy can identify the changing molecular structure and alternations in the conformation of major macromolecules (collagen and proteoglycans) using parameters such as chemical shift, relaxation rates, and magnetic spin couplings. MRI provides high-resolution images whose contrast reflects developing tissue microstructure and porosity through changes in local relaxation times and the apparent diffusion coefficient. Magnetic resonance elastography uses low-frequency mechanical vibrations in conjunction with MRI to measure soft tissue mechanical properties (shear modulus and viscosity). When combined, these three techniques provide a noninvasive, multiscale window for characterizing cartilage tissue growth at all stages of tissue development, from the initial cell seeding of scaffolds to the development of the extracellular matrix during construct incubation, and finally, to the postimplantation assessment of tissue integration in animals and patients.
PMCID: PMC3826474  PMID: 23574498
4.  Three-Dimensional Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering Applications: Role of Porosity and Pore Size 
Tissue engineering applications commonly encompass the use of three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds to provide a suitable microenvironment for the incorporation of cells or growth factors to regenerate damaged tissues or organs. These scaffolds serve to mimic the actual in vivo microenvironment where cells interact and behave according to the mechanical cues obtained from the surrounding 3D environment. Hence, the material properties of the scaffolds are vital in determining cellular response and fate. These 3D scaffolds are generally highly porous with interconnected pore networks to facilitate nutrient and oxygen diffusion and waste removal. This review focuses on the various fabrication techniques (e.g., conventional and rapid prototyping methods) that have been employed to fabricate 3D scaffolds of different pore sizes and porosity. The different pore size and porosity measurement methods will also be discussed. Scaffolds with graded porosity have also been studied for their ability to better represent the actual in vivo situation where cells are exposed to layers of different tissues with varying properties. In addition, the ability of pore size and porosity of scaffolds to direct cellular responses and alter the mechanical properties of scaffolds will be reviewed, followed by a look at nature's own scaffold, the extracellular matrix. Overall, the limitations of current scaffold fabrication approaches for tissue engineering applications and some novel and promising alternatives will be highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3826579  PMID: 23672709
5.  Mechanical Testing of Hydrogels in Cartilage Tissue Engineering: Beyond the Compressive Modulus 
Injuries to articular cartilage result in significant pain to patients and high medical costs. Unfortunately, cartilage repair strategies have been notoriously unreliable and/or complex. Biomaterial-based tissue-engineering strategies offer great promise, including the use of hydrogels to regenerate articular cartilage. Mechanical integrity is arguably the most important functional outcome of engineered cartilage, although mechanical testing of hydrogel-based constructs to date has focused primarily on deformation rather than failure properties. In addition to deformation testing, as the field of cartilage tissue engineering matures, this community will benefit from the addition of mechanical failure testing to outcome analyses, given the crucial clinical importance of the success of engineered constructs. However, there is a tremendous disparity in the methods used to evaluate mechanical failure of hydrogels and articular cartilage. In an effort to bridge the gap in mechanical testing methods of articular cartilage and hydrogels in cartilage regeneration, this review classifies the different toughness measurements for each. The urgency for identifying the common ground between these two disparate fields is high, as mechanical failure is ready to stand alongside stiffness as a functional design requirement. In comparing toughness measurement methods between hydrogels and cartilage, we recommend that the best option for evaluating mechanical failure of hydrogel-based constructs for cartilage tissue engineering may be tensile testing based on the single edge notch test, in part because specimen preparation is more straightforward and a related American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard can be adopted in a fracture mechanics context.
PMCID: PMC3752504  PMID: 23448091
6.  Mechanobiology of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells 
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are self-renewing and have the potential to differentiate into any cell type in the body, making them attractive cell sources for applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, in order for hPSCs to find use in the clinic, the mechanisms underlying their self-renewal and lineage commitment must be better understood. Many technologies that have been developed for the maintenance and directed differentiation of hPSCs involve the use of soluble growth factors, but recent studies suggest that other elements of the hPSC microenvironment also influence the growth and differentiation of hPSCs. This includes the influences of cell–cell interactions, substrate mechanics, cellular interactions with extracellular matrix, as well as the nanotopography of the substrate and physical forces such as shear stress, cyclic mechanical strain, and compression. In this review, we highlight the recent progress of this area of research and discuss ways in which the mechanical cues may be incorporated into hPSC culture regimes to improve methods for expanding and differentiating hPSCs.
PMCID: PMC3752508  PMID: 23472616
7.  Controlled Release Strategies for Bone, Cartilage, and Osteochondral Engineering—Part II: Challenges on the Evolution from Single to Multiple Bioactive Factor Delivery 
The development of controlled release systems for the regeneration of bone, cartilage, and osteochondral interface is one of the hot topics in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, the majority of the developed systems consider only the release of a single growth factor, which is a limiting step for the success of the therapy. More recent studies have been focused on the design and tailoring of appropriate combinations of bioactive factors to match the desired goals regarding tissue regeneration. In fact, considering the complexity of extracellular matrix and the diversity of growth factors and cytokines involved in each biological response, it is expected that an appropriate combination of bioactive factors could lead to more successful outcomes in tissue regeneration. In this review, the evolution on the development of dual and multiple bioactive factor release systems for bone, cartilage, and osteochondral interface is overviewed, specifically the relevance of parameters such as dosage and spatiotemporal distribution of bioactive factors. A comprehensive collection of studies focused on the delivery of bioactive factors is also presented while highlighting the increasing impact of platelet-rich plasma as an autologous source of multiple growth factors.
PMCID: PMC3690093  PMID: 23249320
8.  Controlled Release Strategies for Bone, Cartilage, and Osteochondral Engineering—Part I: Recapitulation of Native Tissue Healing and Variables for the Design of Delivery Systems 
The potential of growth factors to stimulate tissue healing through the enhancement of cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation is undeniable. However, critical parameters on the design of adequate carriers, such as uncontrolled spatiotemporal presence of bioactive factors, inadequate release profiles, and supraphysiological dosages of growth factors, have impaired the translation of these systems onto clinical practice. This review describes the healing cascades for bone, cartilage, and osteochondral interface, highlighting the role of specific growth factors for triggering the reactions leading to tissue regeneration. Critical criteria on the design of carriers for controlled release of bioactive factors are also reported, focusing on the need to provide a spatiotemporal control over the delivery and presentation of these molecules.
PMCID: PMC3690094  PMID: 23268651
9.  Strategies and Techniques to Enhance the In Situ Endothelialization of Small-Diameter Biodegradable Polymeric Vascular Grafts 
Due to the lack of success in small-diameter (<6 mm) prosthetic vascular grafts, a variety of strategies have evolved utilizing a tissue-engineering approach. Much of this work has focused on enhancing the endothelialization of these grafts. A healthy, confluent endothelial layer provides dynamic control over homeo-stasis, influencing and preventing thrombosis and smooth muscle cell proliferation that can lead to intimal hyperplasia. Strategies to improve endothelialization of biodegradable polymeric grafts have encompassed both chemical and physical modifications to graft surfaces, many focusing on the recruitment of endothelial and endothelial progenitor cells. This review aims to provide a compilation of current and developing strategies that utilize in situ endothelialization to improve vascular graft outcomes, providing a context for the future directions of vascular tissue-engineering strategies that do not require preprocedural cell seeding.
PMCID: PMC3690089  PMID: 23252992
10.  Physicochemical Properties and Applications of Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) for Use in Bone Regeneration 
Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is the most often used synthetic polymer within the field of bone regeneration owing to its biocompatibility and biodegradability. As a consequence, a large number of medical devices comprising PLGA have been approved for clinical use in humans by the American Food and Drug Administration. As compared with the homopolymers of lactic acid poly(lactic acid) and poly(glycolic acid), the co-polymer PLGA is much more versatile with regard to the control over degradation rate. As a material for bone regeneration, the use of PLGA has been extensively studied for application and is included as either scaffolds, coatings, fibers, or micro- and nanospheres to meet various clinical requirements.
PMCID: PMC3690090  PMID: 23350707
11.  Hair Follicle: A Novel Source of Multipotent Stem Cells for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 
The adult body harbors powerful reservoirs of stem cells that enable tissue regeneration under homeostatic conditions or in response to disease or injury. The hair follicle (HF) is a readily accessible mini organ within the skin and contains stem cells from diverse developmental origins that were shown to have surprisingly broad differentiation potential. In this review, we discuss the biology of the HF with particular emphasis on the various stem cell populations residing within the tissue. We summarize the existing knowledge on putative HF stem cell markers, the differentiation potential, and technologies to isolate and expand distinct stem cell populations. We also discuss the potential of HF stem cells for drug and gene delivery, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. We propose that the abundance of stem cells with broad differentiation potential and the ease of accessibility makes the HF an ideal source of stem cells for gene and cell therapies.
PMCID: PMC3690091  PMID: 23157470
12.  Amniotic Fluid-Derived Stem Cells for Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering Applications 
Recent research has demonstrated that a population of stem cells can be isolated from amniotic fluid removed by amniocentesis that are broadly multipotent and nontumorogenic. These amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (AFSC) could potentially provide an autologous cell source for treatment of congenital defects identified during gestation, particularly cardiovascular defects. In this review, the various methods of isolating, sorting, and culturing AFSC are compared, along with techniques for inducing differentiation into cardiac myocytes and endothelial cells. Although research has not demonstrated complete and high-yield cardiac differentiation, AFSC have been shown to effectively differentiate into endothelial cells and can effectively support cardiac tissue. Additionally, several tissue engineering and regenerative therapeutic approaches for the use of these cells in heart patches, injection after myocardial infarction, heart valves, vascularized scaffolds, and blood vessels are summarized. These applications show great promise in the treatment of congenital cardiovascular defects, and further studies of isolation, culture, and differentiation of AFSC will help to develop their use for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and cardiovascular therapies.
PMCID: PMC3690092  PMID: 23350771
13.  The Future of Carbon Dioxide for Polymer Processing in Tissue Engineering 
The use of CO2 for scaffold fabrication in tissue engineering was popularized in the mid-1990s as a tool for producing polymeric foam scaffolds, but had fallen out of favor to some extent, in part due to challenges with pore interconnectivity. Pore interconnectivity issues have since been resolved by numerous dedicated studies that have collectively outlined how to control the appropriate parameters to achieve a pore structure desirable for tissue regeneration. In addition to CO2 foaming, several groups have leveraged CO2 as a swelling agent to impregnate scaffolds with drugs and other bioactive additives, and for encapsulation of plasmids within scaffolds for gene delivery. Moreover, in contrast to CO2 foaming, which typically relies on supercritical CO2 at very high pressures, CO2 at much lower pressures has also been used to sinter polymeric microspheres together in the presence of cells to create cell-seeded scaffolds in a single step. CO2 has a number of advantages for polymer processing in tissue engineering, including its ease of use, low cost, and the opportunity to circumvent the use of organic solvents. Building on these advantages, and especially now with the tremendous precedent that has paved the way in defining operating parameters, and making the technology accessible for new groups to adapt, we invite and encourage our colleagues in the field to leverage CO2 as a new tool to enhance their own respective unique capabilities.
PMCID: PMC3627402  PMID: 23289736
14.  Transcriptional Regulatory Cascades in Runx2-Dependent Bone Development 
The development of the musculoskeletal system is a complex process that involves very precise control of bone formation and growth as well as remodeling during postnatal life. Although the understanding of the transcriptional mechanisms of osteogenesis has increased considerably, the molecular regulatory basis, especially the gene regulatory network of osteogenic differentiation, is still poorly understood. This review provides the reader with an overview of the key transcription factors that govern bone formation, highlighting their function and regulation linked to Runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2). Runx2 as the master transcription factor of osteoblast differentiation, Twist, Msh homeobox 2 (Msx2), and promyelocytic leukemia zinc-finger protein (PLZF) acting upstream of Runx2, Osterix (Osx) acting downstream of Runx2, and activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and zinc-finger protein 521 (ZFP521) acting as cofactors of Runx2 are discussed, and their relevance for tissue engineering is presented. References are provided for more in-depth personal study.
PMCID: PMC3627420  PMID: 23150948
15.  Comparison of Methods for Whole-Organ Decellularization in Tissue Engineering of Bioartificial Organs 
Organ transplantation is now a well-established procedure for the treatment of end-stage organ failure due to various causes, but is a victim of its own success in that there is a growing disparity in numbers between the donor organ pool available for transplantation and the patients eligible for such a procedure; hence, an alternative solution to the limited donor organ pool is both desirable and necessary. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering and life sciences toward the development of functional replacement tissues for clinical use. A recent innovation in tissue and organ engineering is the technique of whole-organ decellularization, which allows the production of complex three-dimensional extracellular matrix (ECM) bioscaffolds of the entire organ with preservation of the intrinsic vascular network. These bioscaffolds can then be recellularized to create potentially functional organ constructs as a regenerative medicine strategy for organ replacement. We review the current applications and methods in using xenogeneic whole-organ ECM scaffolds to create potentially functional bioartificial organ constructs for surgical implantation, and present a comparison of specific trends within this new and developing technique.
PMCID: PMC3627431  PMID: 23083305
16.  High-Density Cell Systems Incorporating Polymer Microspheres as Microenvironmental Regulators in Engineered Cartilage Tissues 
To address the significant clinical need for tissue-engineered therapies for the repair and regeneration of articular cartilage, many systems have recently been developed using bioactive polymer microspheres as regulators of the chondrogenic microenvironment within high-density cell cultures. In this review, we highlight various densely cellular systems utilizing polymer microspheres as three-dimensional (3D) structural elements within developing engineered cartilage tissue, carriers for cell expansion and delivery, vehicles for spatiotemporally controlled growth factor delivery, and directors of cell behavior via regulation of cell–biomaterial interactions. The diverse systems described herein represent a shift from the more traditional tissue engineering approach of combining cells and growth factors within a biomaterial scaffold, to the design of modular systems that rely on the assembly of cells and bioactive polymer microspheres as building blocks to guide the creation of articular cartilage. Cell-based assembly of 3D microsphere-incorporated structures represents a promising avenue for the future of tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC3627432  PMID: 23126333
17.  An Exploratory Clinical Trial for Idiopathic Osteonecrosis of Femoral Head by Cultured Autologous Multipotent Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Augmented with Vascularized Bone Grafts 
Idiopathic osteonecrosis of femoral head (ION) is a painful disorder that progresses to collapse of the femoral head and destruction of the hip joint. Although its precise pathology remains unknown, the loss of blood supply causing the loss of living bone-forming cells is a hallmark of the pathophysiology of osteonecrosis. Transplantation of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) is a promising tool for regenerating the musculoskeletal system. The aim of the present study was to assess the safety and efficacy of transplantation of cultured autologous bone marrow-derived MSCs mixed with β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) in combination with vascularized bone grafts for the treatment of advanced stage ION in a clinical trial. Ten patients with stage 3 ION were enrolled in this study. Autologous bone marrow-derived MSCs were cultured with autologous serum, and cells (0.5–1.0×108) were transplanted after mixing with β-TCP granules in combination with vascularized iliac bone grafts. Patients were assessed 24 months after treatment. The primary and secondary endpoints were progression of the radiological stage and changes in bone volume at the femoral head, and clinical score, respectively. Nine of ten patients completed the protocol, seven of whom remained at stage 3, and the remaining two cases progressed to stage 4. The average bone volume increased from 56.5±8.5 cm3 to 57.7±10.6 cm3. The average clinical score according to the Japan Orthopaedic Association improved from 65.6±25.5 points to 87.9±19.0 points. One severe adverse event was observed, which was not related to the clinical trial. Although the efficacy of cell transplantation was still to be determined, all procedures were successfully performed and some young patients with extensive necrotic lesions with pain demonstrated good bone regeneration with amelioration of symptoms. Further improvements in our method using MSCs and the proper selection of patients will open a new approach for the treatment of this refractory disease.
PMCID: PMC4123560  PMID: 24593258
18.  Bioreactor Design for Tendon/Ligament Engineering 
Tendon and ligament injury is a worldwide health problem, but the treatment options remain limited. Tendon and ligament engineering might provide an alternative tissue source for the surgical replacement of injured tendon. A bioreactor provides a controllable environment enabling the systematic study of specific biological, biochemical, and biomechanical requirements to design and manufacture engineered tendon/ligament tissue. Furthermore, the tendon/ligament bioreactor system can provide a suitable culture environment, which mimics the dynamics of the in vivo environment for tendon/ligament maturation. For clinical settings, bioreactors also have the advantages of less-contamination risk, high reproducibility of cell propagation by minimizing manual operation, and a consistent end product. In this review, we identify the key components, design preferences, and criteria that are required for the development of an ideal bioreactor for engineering tendons and ligaments.
PMCID: PMC3589869  PMID: 23072472
19.  Elucidating Multiscale Periosteal Mechanobiology: A Key to Unlocking the Smart Properties and Regenerative Capacity of the Periosteum? 
The periosteum, a thin, fibrous tissue layer covering most bones, resides in a dynamic, mechanically loaded environment. The periosteum also provides a niche for mesenchymal stem cells. The mechanics of periosteum vary greatly between species and anatomical locations, indicating the specialized role of periosteum as bone's bounding membrane. Furthermore, periosteum exhibits stress-state-dependent mechanical and material properties, hallmarks of a smart material. This review discusses what is known about the multiscale mechanical and material properties of the periosteum as well as their potential effect on the mechanosensitive progenitor cells within the tissue. Furthermore, this review addresses open questions and barriers to understanding periosteum's multiscale structure–function relationships. Knowledge of the smart material properties of the periosteum will maximize the translation of periosteum and substitute periosteum to regenerative medicine, facilitate the development of biomimetic tissue-engineered periosteum for use in instances where the native periosteum is lacking or damaged, and provide inspiration for a new class of smart, advanced materials.
PMCID: PMC3589889  PMID: 23189933
20.  Protein–Hydrogel Interactions in Tissue Engineering: Mechanisms and Applications 
Recent advances in our understanding of the sophistication of the cellular microenvironment and the dynamics of tissue remodeling during development, disease, and regeneration have increased our appreciation of the current challenges facing tissue engineering. As this appreciation advances, we are better equipped to approach problems in the biology and therapeutics of even more complex fields, such as stem cells and cancer. To aid in these studies, as well as the established areas of tissue engineering, including cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and neural applications, biomaterials scientists have developed an extensive array of materials with specifically designed chemical, mechanical, and biological properties. Herein, we highlight an important topic within this area of biomaterials research, protein–hydrogel interactions. Due to inherent advantages of hydrated scaffolds for soft tissue engineering as well as specialized bioactivity of proteins and peptides, this field is well-posed to tackle major needs within emerging areas of tissue engineering. We provide an overview of the major modes of interactions between hydrogels and proteins (e.g., weak forces, covalent binding, affinity binding), examples of applications within growth factor delivery and three-dimensional scaffolds, and finally future directions within the area of hydrogel–protein interactions that will advance our ability to control the cell–biomaterial interface.
PMCID: PMC3592387  PMID: 23150926
21.  Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine: Recent Innovations and the Transition to Translation 
The field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) has exploded in the last decade. In this Year (or so) in Review, we highlight some of the high impact advances within the field over the past several years. Using the past as our guide and starting with an objective premise, we attempt so to identify recent “hot topics” and transformative publications within the field. Through this process, several key themes emerged: (1) tissue engineering: grafts and materials, (2) regenerative medicine: scaffolds and factors that control endogenous tissue formation, (3) clinical trials, and (4) novel cell sources: induced pluripotent stem cells. Within these focus areas, we summarize the highly impactful articles that emerged from our objective analysis and review additional recent publications to augment and expand upon these key themes. Finally, we discuss where the TERM field may be headed and how to monitor such a broad-based and ever-expanding community.
PMCID: PMC3564480  PMID: 23253031
22.  Cytoskeletal and Focal Adhesion Influences on Mesenchymal Stem Cell Shape, Mechanical Properties, and Differentiation Down Osteogenic, Adipogenic, and Chondrogenic Pathways 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold great potential for regenerative medicine and tissue-engineering applications. They have multipotent differentiation capabilities and have been shown to differentiate down various lineages, including osteoblasts, adipocytes, chondrocytes, myocytes, and possibly neurons. The majority of approaches to control the MSC fate have been via the use of chemical factors in the form of growth factors within the culture medium. More recently, it has been understood that mechanical forces play a significant role in regulating MSC fate. We and others have shown that mechanical stimuli can control MSC lineage specification. The cytoskeleton is known to play a large role in mechanotransduction, and a growing number of studies are showing that it can also contribute to MSC differentiation. This review analyzes the significant contribution of actin and integrin distribution, and the smaller role of microtubules, in regulating MSC fate. Osteogenic differentiation is more prevalent in MSCs with a stiff, spread actin cytoskeleton and greater numbers of focal adhesions. Both adipogenic differentiation and chondrogenic differentiation are encouraged when MSCs have a spherical morphology associated with a dispersed actin cytoskeleton with few focal adhesions. Different mechanical stimuli can be implemented to alter these cytoskeletal patterns and encourage MSC differentiation to the desired lineage.
PMCID: PMC3495119  PMID: 22741572
23.  Decoupling Polymer Properties to Elucidate Mechanisms Governing Cell Behavior 
Determining how a biomaterial interacts with cells (“structure-function relationship”) reflects its eventual clinical applicability. Therefore, a fundamental understanding of how individual material properties modulate cell-biomaterial interactions is pivotal to improving the efficacy and safety of clinically translatable biomaterial systems. However, due to the coupled nature of material properties, their individual effects on cellular responses are difficult to understand. Structure-function relationships can be more clearly understood by the effective decoupling of each individual parameter. In this article, we discuss three basic decoupling strategies: (1) surface modification, (2) cross-linking, and (3) combinatorial approaches (i.e., copolymerization and polymer blending). Relevant examples of coupled material properties are briefly reviewed in each section to highlight the need for improved decoupling methods. This follows with examples of more effective decoupling techniques, mainly from the perspective of three primary classes of synthetic materials: polyesters, polyethylene glycol, and polyacrylamide. Recent strides in decoupling methodologies, especially surface-patterning and combinatorial techniques, offer much promise in further understanding the structure-function relationships that largely govern the success of future advancements in biomaterials, tissue engineering, and drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3458619  PMID: 22536977
24.  Leveraging “Raw Materials” as Building Blocks and Bioactive Signals in Regenerative Medicine 
Components found within the extracellular matrix (ECM) have emerged as an essential subset of biomaterials for tissue engineering scaffolds. Collagen, glycosaminoglycans, bioceramics, and ECM-based matrices are the main categories of “raw materials” used in a wide variety of tissue engineering strategies. The advantages of raw materials include their inherent ability to create a microenvironment that contains physical, chemical, and mechanical cues similar to native tissue, which prove unmatched by synthetic biomaterials alone. Moreover, these raw materials provide a head start in the regeneration of tissues by providing building blocks to be bioresorbed and incorporated into the tissue as opposed to being biodegraded into waste products and removed. This article reviews the strategies and applications of employing raw materials as components of tissue engineering constructs. Utilizing raw materials holds the potential to provide both a scaffold and a signal, perhaps even without the addition of exogenous growth factors or cytokines. Raw materials contain endogenous proteins that may also help to improve the translational success of tissue engineering solutions to progress from laboratory bench to clinical therapies. Traditionally, the tissue engineering triad has included cells, signals, and materials. Whether raw materials represent their own new paradigm or are categorized as a bridge between signals and materials, it is clear that they have emerged as a leading strategy in regenerative medicine. The common use of raw materials in commercial products as well as their growing presence in the research community speak to their potential. However, there has heretofore not been a coordinated or organized effort to classify these approaches, and as such we recommend that the use of raw materials be introduced into the collective consciousness of our field as a recognized classification of regenerative medicine strategies.
PMCID: PMC3458620  PMID: 22462759
25.  Bisphosphonate-Based Strategies for Bone Tissue Engineering and Orthopedic Implants 
Bisphosphonates (BPs) are a group of well-established drugs that are applied in the development of metabolic bone disorder-related therapies. There is increasing interest also in the application of BPs in the context of bone tissue engineering, which is the topic of this review, in which an extensive overview of published studies on the development and applications of BPs-based strategies for bone regeneration is provided with special focus on the rationale for the use of different BPs in three-dimensional (3D) bone tissue scaffolds. The different alternatives that are investigated to address the delivery and sustained release of these therapeutic drugs in the nearby tissues are comprehensively discussed, and the most significant published approaches on bisphosphonate-conjugated drugs in multifunctional 3D scaffolds as well as the role of BPs within coatings for the improved fixation of orthopedic implants are presented and critically evaluated. Finally, the authors' views regarding the remaining challenges in the fields and directions for future research efforts are highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3458621  PMID: 22440082

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