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J Biomech. 2006;39(8):1547-51. Epub 2005 Jun 27.

Mechanical compression and hydrostatic pressure induce reversible changes in actin cytoskeletal organisation in chondrocytes in agarose.

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  • 1IRC in Biomedical Materials and Medical Engineering Division, Department of Engineering, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.


In numerous cell types, the cytoskeleton has been widely implicated in mechanotransduction pathways involving stretch-activated ion channels, integrins and deformation of intracellular organelles. Studies have also demonstrated that the cytoskeleton can undergo remodelling in response to mechanical stimuli such as tensile strain or fluid flow. In articular chondrocytes, the mechanotransduction pathways are complex, inter-related and as yet, poorly understood. Furthermore, little is known of how the chondrocyte cytoskeleton responds to physiological mechanical loading. This study utilises the well-characterised chondrocyte-agarose model and an established confocal image-analysis technique to demonstrate that both static and cyclic, compressive strain and hydrostatic pressure all induce remodelling of actin microfilaments. This remodelling was characterised by a change from a uniform to a more punctate distribution of cortical actin around the cell periphery. For some loading regimes, this remodelling was reversed over a subsequent 1h unloaded period. This reversible remodelling of actin cytoskeleton may therefore represent a mechanism through which the chondrocyte alters its mechanical properties and mechanosensitivity in response to physiological mechanical loading.

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