Biomaterial-induced pathway modulation for bone regeneration

Steven Vermeulen, Zeinab Tahmasebi Birgani, Pamela Habibovic

Published: April 2022


Embryogenic developmental processes involve a tightly controlled regulation between mechanical forces and biochemical cues such as growth factors, matrix proteins, and cytokines. This interplay remains essential in the mature body, with aberrant pathway signaling leading to abnormalities such as atherosclerosis in the cardiovascular system, inflammation in tendon tissue, or osteoporosis in the bone. The aim of bone regenerative strategies is to develop tools and procedures that will harness the body’s own self-repair ability in order to successfully regenerate even very large and complex bone defects and restore normal function. To achieve this, understanding pathways that govern processes of progenitor differentiation towards the osteogenic lineages, their phenotypical maintenance, and the construction of functional bone tissue is imperative to subsequently develop regenerative therapies that mimic these processes. While a body of literature exists that describes how biochemical stimuli guide cell behavior in the culture dish, due to the lack of an appropriate mechanical environment, these signals are often insufficient or inappropriate for achieving a desirable response in the body. Moreover, bone regenerative therapies rarely rely on a biochemical stimulus, such as a growth factor alone, and instead often comprise a carrier biomaterial that introduces a very different microenvironment from that of a cell culture dish. Therefore, in this review, we discuss which biomaterials elicit or influence pathways relevant for bone regeneration and describe mechanisms behind these effects, with the aim to inspire the development of novel, more effective bone regenerative therapies.

Full Access Link: Biomaterials