Mechanical cell stretching may be an attractive strategy for the tissue engineering of mechanically functional tissues. It has been demonstrated that cell growth and differentiation can be guided by cell stretch with minimal help from soluble factors and engineered tissues that are mechanically stretched in bioreactors may have superior organization, functionality, and strength compared with unstretched counterparts. This review explores recent studies on cell stretching in both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) setups focusing on the applications of stretch stimulation as a tool for controlling cell orientation, growth, gene expression, lineage commitment, and differentiation and for achieving successful tissue engineering of mechanically functional tissues, including cardiac, muscle, vasculature, ligament, tendon, bone, and so on. Custom stretching devices and lab-specific mechanical bioreactors are described with a discussion on capabilities and limitations. While stretch mechanotransduction pathways have been examined using 2D stretch, studying such pathways in physiologically relevant 3D environments may be required to understand how cells direct tissue development under stretch. Cell stretch study using 3D milieus may also help to develop tissue-specific stretch regimens optimized with biochemical feedback, which once developed will provide optimal tissue engineering protocols.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering