Mechanical and Vascular Cues Synergistically Enhance Osteogenesis in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Development and maintenance of a vascular network are critical for bone growth and homeostasis; strategies that promote vascular function are critical for clinical success of tissue-engineered bone constructs. Co-culture of endothelial cells (ECs) with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and exposure to 10% cyclic tensile strain have both been shown to regulate osteogenesis in isolation, but potential synergistic effects have yet to be explored. The objective of this study was to expose an MSC-EC co-culture to 10% cyclic tensile strain to examine the role of this mechanical stimulus on MSC-EC behavior. We hypothesized that paracrine signaling from ECs would stimulate osteogenesis of MSCs, and exposure to 10% cyclic tensile strain would enhance this anabolic signal. Human umbilical vein ECs and human bone marrow-derived MSCs were either monocultured or co-cultured at a 1:1 ratio in a mixed osteo/angiogenic medium, exposed to 10% cyclic tensile strain at 1Hz for 4h/day for 2 weeks, and biochemically and histologically analyzed for endothelial and osteogenic markers. While neither 10% cyclic tensile strain nor co-culture alone had a significant effect on osteogenesis, the concurrent application of strain to an MSC-EC co-culture resulted in a significant increase in calcium accretion and mineral deposition, suggesting that co-culture and strain synergistically enhance osteogenesis. Neither co-culture, 10% cyclic tensile strain, nor a combination of these stimuli affected endothelial markers, indicating that the endothelial phenotype remained stable, but unresponsive to the stimuli evaluated in this study. This study is the first to investigate the role of cyclic tensile strain on the complex interplay between ECs and MSCs in co-culture. The results of this study provide key insights into the synergistic effects of 10% cyclic tensile strain and co-culture on osteogenesis. Understanding mechanobiological factors affecting MSC-EC crosstalk will help enhance strategies for creating vascularized tissues in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

published proceedings

  • Tissue Eng Part A

author list (cited authors)

  • Steward, A. J., Cole, J. H., Ligler, F. S., & Loboa, E. G.

complete list of authors

  • Steward, Andrew J||Cole, Jacqueline H||Ligler, Frances S||Loboa, Elizabeth G

publication date

  • August 2016