The effects of tensile loading and extracellular environmental cues on fibroblastic differntiation and extracellular matrix production by mesenchymal stem cells
Doroski, Derek M.
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Ligament/tendon tissue engineering has the potential to provide therapies that overcome the limitations of incomplete natural healing responses and inadequate graft materials. While ligament/tendon fibroblasts are an obvious choice of cell type for these applications, difficulties associated with finding a suitable cell source have limited their utility. Mesenchymal stem cells/marrow stromal cells (MSCs) are seen as a viable alternative since they can be harvested through routine medical procedures and can be differentiated toward a ligament/tendon fibroblast lineage. Further study is needed to create an optimal biomaterial/biomechanical environment for ligament/tendon fibroblastic differentiation of MSCs. The overall goal of this dissertation was to improve the understanding of the role that biomechanical stimulation and the biomaterial environment play, both independently and combined, on human MSC (hMSC) differentiation toward a ligament/tendon fibroblast phenotype. Specifically, the effects of cyclic tensile stimuli were studied in a biomaterial environment that provided controlled presentation of biological moieties. The influence of an enzymatically-degradable biomaterial environment on hMSC differentiation was investigated by creating biomaterials containing enzymatically-cleavable moieties. The role that preculture may play in tensile responses of hMSCs was also explored. Together, these studies provided insights into the contributions of the biomaterial and biomechanical environment to hMSC differentiation toward a ligament/tendon fibroblast phenotype.