Engineered Microenvironment for the Study of Myofibroblast Mechanobiology
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Myofibroblasts are mechanosensitive cells and a variety of their behaviours including differentiation, migration, force production and biosynthesis are regulated by the surrounding microenvironment. Engineered cell culture models have been developed to examine the effect of microenvironmental factors such as the substrate stiffness, the topography and strain of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the shear stress on myofibroblast biology. These engineered models provide well-mimicked, pathophysiologically relevant experimental conditions that are superior to those enabled by the conventional two-dimensional (2D) culture models. In this perspective, we will review the recent advances in the development of engineered cell culture models for myofibroblasts and outline the findings on the myofibroblast mechanobiology under various microenvironmental conditions. These studies have demonstrated the power and utility of the engineered models for the study of microenvironment-regulated cellular behaviours. The findings derived using these models contribute to a greater understanding of how myofibroblast behaviour is regulated in tissue repair and pathological scar formation.
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