From: University of Missouri-Columbia
Published August 22, 2017 03:00 PM

MU Study Finds that Gravity, 'Mechanical Loading' are Key to Cartilage Development

Mechanical loading, or forces that stimulate cellular growth for development, is required for creating cartilage that is then turned to bone; however, little is known about cartilage development in the absence of gravity or mechanical loads. Now, in a study led by the University of Missouri, bioengineers have determined that microgravity may inhibit cartilage formation. Findings reveal that fracture healing for astronauts in space, as well as patients on bed rest here on Earth, could be compromised in the absence of mechanical loading.

“Cartilage tissue engineering is a growing field because cartilage does not regenerate,” said Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the MU College of Engineering and a professor of bioengineering. “Because these tissues cannot renew themselves, bioreactors, or devices that support tissue and cell development, are used in many cartilage tissue engineering applications. Some studies suggest that microgravity bioreactors are ideal for the process to take place, while others show that bioreactors that mimic the hydrostatic pressure needed to produce cartilage might be more ideal. Our first-of-its-kind study was designed to test both theories.”

Chondrogenic differentiation is the process by which cartilage is developed and cartilage is the basis for bone formation in the body. Additionally, cartilage does not renew itself once it breaks down or fails in the body, making it a target for bioengineers who wish to help patients regenerate cartilage from other cells.

Read more at University of Missouri-Columbia

Image: Elizabeth Loboa and her team determined that microgravity may inhibit cartilage formation. Findings reveal that fracture healing for astronauts in space, as well as patients on bed rest here on Earth, could be compromised in the absence of mechanical loading. (Credit: MU College of Engineering)

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