Adult stem cells, including mesenchymal stem cells, display plasticity in that they can differentiate toward various lineages including bone cells, cartilage cells, fat cells, and other types of connective tissue cells. However, it is not clear what factors direct adult stem cell lineage commitment and terminal differentiation. Emerging evidence suggests that extracellular physical cues have the potential to control stem cell lineage specification. In this perspective article, we review recent findings on biomaterial surface and mechanical signal regulation of stem cell differentiation. Specifically, we focus on stem cell response to substrate nanoscale topography and fluid flow induced shear stress and how these physical factors may regulate stem cell osteoblastic differentiation in vitro.
Copyright © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society.