Stochastic Resonance is a Method to Improve the Biosynthetic Response of Chondrocytes to Mechanical Stimulation

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Abstract

Cellular mechanosensitivity is an important factor during the mechanical stimulation of tissue engineered cartilage. While the application of mechanical stimuli improves tissue growth and properties, chondrocytes also rapidly desensitize under prolonged loading thereby limiting its effectiveness. One potential method to mitigate load-induced desensitization is by superimposing noise on the loading waveforms (“stochastic resonance”). Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of stochastic resonance on chondrocyte matrix metabolism. Chondrocyte-seeded agarose gels were subjected to dynamic compressive loading, with or without, superimposed vibrations of different amplitudes and frequency bandwidths. Changes in matrix biosynthesis were determined by radioisotope incorporation and subsequent effects on intracellular calcium signaling were evaluated by confocal microscopy. Although dependent on the duration of loading, superimposed vibrations improved cellular sensitivity to mechanical loading by further increasing matrix synthesis between 20–60%. Stochastic resonance also appeared to limit load-induced desensitization by maintaining sensitivity under desensitized loading conditions. While superimposed vibrations had little effect on the magnitude of intracellular calcium signaling, recovery of mechanosensitivity after stimulation was achieved at a faster rate suggesting that less time may be required between successive loading applications. Thus, stochastic resonance appears to be a valuable tool during the mechanical stimulation of cartilage constructs, even when suboptimal stimulation conditions are used. © 2015 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 34:231–239, 2016.

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