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Mechanical regulation of cellular phenotype: implications for vascular tissue regeneration

Wendy F. Liu
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvs168 215-222 First published online: 23 May 2012

Abstract

Cells sense a myriad of cues from their surrounding microenvironment to regulate their function. In recent years, it has become clear that physical and mechanical cues are as critical as biochemical factors in regulating cellular function. The geometry of the extracellular matrix (ECM), degree of cell spreading, and ECM rigidity all influence the physical connection between cells and their microenvironment and play a major role in regulating proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Leveraging these findings to promote specific cell behaviours will be paramount to realize the full potential of cellular therapies. In this review, I examine our current understanding of how mechanical cues—specifically, geometric control of cell shape and matrix rigidity—are transduced by stem cells to control their stemness, proliferation, and differentiation. The implications of these findings for vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation and cardiovascular tissue engineering will be highlighted.

  • Stem cells
  • Vascular smooth muscle
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Micropatterning
  • Rigidity
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