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Biomed Eng Online. 2012 Oct 25;11:80. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-11-80.

Mechanical strain promotes osteoblast ECM formation and improves its osteoinductive potential.

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  • 1Academy of Military Medical Science, Tianjin Institute of Medical Equipment, No 106 Wandong Road, Hedong District, Tianjin, 300161, China.



The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides a supportive microenvironment for cells, which is suitable as a tissue engineering scaffold. Mechanical stimulus plays a significant role in the fate of osteoblast, suggesting that it regulates ECM formation. Therefore, we investigated the influence of mechanical stimulus on ECM formation and bioactivity.


Mouse osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells were cultured in cell culture dishes and stimulated with mechanical tensile strain. After removing the cells, the ECMs coated on dishes were prepared. The ECM protein and calcium were assayed and MC3T3-E1 cells were re-seeded on the ECM-coated dishes to assess osteoinductive potential of the ECM.


The cyclic tensile strain increased collagen, bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2), BMP-4, and calcium levels in the ECM. Compared with the ECM produced by unstrained osteoblasts, those of mechanically stimulated osteoblasts promoted alkaline phosphatase activity, elevated BMP-2 and osteopontin levels and mRNA levels of runt-related transcriptional factor 2 (Runx2) and osteocalcin (OCN), and increased secreted calcium of the re-seeded MC3T3-E1 cells.


Mechanical strain promoted ECM production of osteoblasts in vitro, increased BMP-2/4 levels, and improved osteoinductive potential of the ECM. This study provided a novel method to enhance bioactivity of bone ECM in vitro via mechanical strain to osteoblasts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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