Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 185–194 | Cite as

Regulatory Effects of Mechanical Strain on the Chondrogenic Differentiation of MSCs in a Collagen-GAG Scaffold: Experimental and Computational Analysis

  • Louise A. McMahon
  • Alan J. Reid
  • Veronica A. Campbell
  • Patrick J. PrendergastEmail author


The effective treatment of cartilage defects by tissue engineering requires an improved understanding of the effect of mechanical forces on cell differentiation within three-dimensional (3D) matrices. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of mechanical constraint and cyclic tensile strain on the chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in a 3D collagen type I-glycosaminoglycan (GAG) scaffold. A multi-station uniaxial stretching bioreactor was fabricated to facilitate application of cyclic strain to the constructs cultured in a chondrogenic medium. Mechanical constraint, created by uniaxial clamping, prevented the cell-mediated contraction of the scaffolds and resulted in a reduction in the rate of GAG synthesis as measured by [35S] sulfate incorporation relative to unconstrained controls. However, the rate of GAG synthesis was increased following application of continuous 10% cyclic tensile loading at 1 Hz for 7 days. A poroelastic finite element analysis of the 3D scaffold computed a maximum fluid flow of 19 μm/s and maximum principal strains of 8% under 10% stretch suggesting these magnitudes were sufficient to mechano-regulate the chondrogenic differentiation process.


Chondrogenic differentiation Mesenchymal stem cells Collagen-GAG scaffold Mechanoregulation Tensile strain Computational analysis 



This work was funded by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology: funded by the National Development Plan and by the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (Trinity Centre for Bioengineering) administered by the Higher Education Authority, Ireland. The authors would like to thank Dr. Fergal O’Brien and Mr. Matthew Haugh (RCSI, Dublin) and Integra for their generous donation of the scaffolds, Mr. Gabriel Nicholson (Trinity Centre for Bioengineering) for the fabrication of the multi-station bioreactor, and Dr. Thomas Connor and Ms. Noreen Boyle (Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College), for their advice on flow cytometry.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise A. McMahon
    • 1
  • Alan J. Reid
    • 2
  • Veronica A. Campbell
    • 1
    • 3
  • Patrick J. Prendergast
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, School of EngineeringTrinity CollegeDublinIreland
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of EngineeringTrinity CollegeDublinIreland
  3. 3.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineTrinity CollegeDublinIreland

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