Extracellular mechanophysical signals from both static substrate cue and dynamic mechanical loading have strong potential to regulate cell functions. Most of the studies have adopted either static or dynamic cue and shown that each cue can regulate cell adhesion, spreading, migration, proliferation, lineage commitment, and differentiation. However, there is limited information on the integrative control of cell functions by the static and dynamic mechanophysical signals. For example, a majority of dynamic loading studies have tested mechanical stimulation of cells utilizing cultures on flat surfaces without any surface modification. While these approaches have provided significant information on cell mechanotransduction, obtained outcomes may not correctly recapitulate complex cellular mechanosensing milieus in vivo. Several pioneering studies documented cellular response to mechanical stimulations upon cultures with biomimetic substrate modifications. In this min-review, we will highlight key findings on the integrative role of substrate cue (topographic, geometric, etc.) and mechanical stimulation (stretch, fluid shear) in modulating cell function and fate. The integrative approaches, though not fully established yet, will help properly understand cell mechanotransduction under biomimetic mechanophysical environments. This may further lead to advanced functional tissue engineering and regenerative medicine protocols.
Keywords: Biomimetic substrate; Functional tissue engineering; Mechanical stimulation; Mechanotransduction.