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Eur Cell Mater. 2011 Oct 11;22:214-25.

A combination of shear and dynamic compression leads to mechanically induced chondrogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1AO Research Institute Davos, Clavadelerstrasse 8, Davos Platz, Switzerland.


There is great interest in how bone marrow derived stem cells make fate decisions. Numerous studies have investigated the role of individual growth factors on mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, leading to protocols for cartilage, bone and adipose tissue. However, these protocols overlook the role of biomechanics on stem cell differentiation. There have been various studies that have applied mechanical stimulation to constructs containing mesenchymal stem cells, with varying degrees of success. One critical fate decision is that between cartilage and bone. Articular motion is a combination of compressive, tensile and shear deformations; therefore, one can presume that compression alone is unlikely to be a sufficient mechanical signal to generate a cartilage-like tissue in vitro. Within this study, we aimed to determine the role of shear on the fate of stem cell differentiation. Specifically, we investigated the potential enhancing effect of surface shear, superimposed on cyclic axial compression, on chondrogenic differentiation of human bone marrow-derived stem cells. Using a custom built loading device we applied compression, shear or a combination of both stimuli onto fibrin/polyurethane composites in which human mesenchymal stem cells were embedded, while no exogenous growth-factors were added to the culture medium. Both compression or shear alone was insufficient for the chondrogenic induction of human mesenchymal stem cells. However, the application of shear superimposed upon dynamic compression led to significant increases in chondrogenic gene expression. Histological analysis detected sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen II only in the compression and shear group. The results obtained may provide insight into post-operative care after cell therapy involving mesenchymal stromal cells.

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