Cellular geometry sensing at different length scales and its implications for scaffold design

Maike Werner, Nicholas A. Kurniawan and Carlijn V. C. Bouten

Published: 01/02/2020


Geometrical cues provided by the intrinsic architecture of tissues and implanted biomaterials have a high relevance in controlling cellular behavior. Knowledge of how cells sense and subsequently respond to complex geometrical cues of various sizes and origins is needed to understand the role of the architecture of the extracellular environment as a cell-instructive parameter. This is of particular interest in the field of tissue engineering, where the success of scaffold-guided tissue regeneration largely depends on the formation of new tissue in a native-like organization in order to ensure proper tissue function. A well-considered internal scaffold design (i.e., the inner architecture of the porous structure) can largely contribute to the desired cell and tissue organization. Advances in scaffold production techniques for tissue engineering purposes in the last years have provided the possibility to accurately create scaffolds with defined macroscale external and microscale internal architectures. Using the knowledge of how cells sense geometrical cues of different size ranges can drive the rational design of scaffolds that control cellular and tissue architecture. This concise review addresses the recently gained knowledge of the sensory mechanisms of cells towards geometrical cues of different sizes (from the nanometer to millimeter scale) and points out how this insight can contribute to informed architectural scaffold designs.

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