Microstructural heterogeneity directs micromechanics and mechanobiology in native and engineered fibrocartilage

Woojin M. Han, Su Jin Heo, Tristan P. Driscoll, John F. Delucca, Claire M. McLeod, Lachlan J. Smith, Randall L. Duncan, Robert L. Mauck, Dawn M. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Treatment strategies to address pathologies of fibrocartilaginous tissue are in part limited by an incomplete understanding of structure-function relationships in these load-bearing tissues. There is therefore a pressing need to develop micro-engineered tissue platforms that can recreate the highly inhomogeneous tissue microstructures that are known to influence mechanotransductive processes in normal and diseased tissue. Here, we report the quantification of proteoglycan-rich microdomains in developing, ageing and diseased fibrocartilaginous tissues, and the impact of these microdomains on endogenous cell responses to physiologic deformation within a native-tissue context. We also developed a method to generate heterogeneous tissue-engineered constructs (hetTECs) with non-fibrous proteoglycan-rich microdomains engineered into the fibrous structure, and show that these hetTECs match the microstructural, micromechanical and mechanobiological benchmarks of native tissue. Our tissue-engineered platform should facilitate the study of the mechanobiology of developing, homeostatic, degenerating and regenerating fibrous tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-484
Number of pages8
JournalNature Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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