Biophysical Reviews

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 11–28 | Cite as

Review of biophysical factors affecting osteogenic differentiation of human adult adipose-derived stem cells

  • Georgina To’a Salazar
  • Osamu Ohneda


Developing bone is subject to the control of a broad variety of influences in vivo. For bone repair applications, in vitro osteogenic assays are routinely used to test the responses of bone-forming cells to drugs, hormones, and biomaterials. Results of these assays are used to predict the behavior of bone-forming cells in vivo. Stem cell research has shown promise for enhancing bone repair. In vitro osteogenic assays to test the bone-forming response of stem cells typically use chemical solutions. Stem cell in vitro osteogenic assays often neglect important biophysical cues, such as the forces associated with regular weight-bearing exercise, which promote bone formation. Incorporating more biophysical cues that promote bone formation would improve in vitro osteogenic assays for stem cells. Improved in vitro osteogenic stimulation opens opportunities for “pre-conditioning” cells to differentiate towards the desired lineage. In this review, we explore the role of select biophysical factors—growth surfaces, tensile strain, fluid flow and electromagnetic stimulation—in promoting osteogenic differentiation of stem cells from human adipose. Emphasis is placed on the potential for physical microenvironment manipulation to translate tissue engineering and stem cell research into widespread clinical usage.


Human stem cells Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) Differentiation Osteogenesis Bone tissue engineering Biophysical signals 



This review was completed with the support of the Global 30 Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization of The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, at the University of Tsukuba. I thank Nina Salazar, Professors Damien Hall, Michael Raghunath and Evelyn Yim for critical comments on this review. I also thank Kenichi Kimura and Trinh Nhu Thuy for their helpful introduction and discussions regarding adipose tissue stem cell biology.


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Copyright information

© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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