Characterising the effects of in vitro mechanical stimulation on morphogenesis of developing limb explants

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Mechanical forces due to fetal movements play an important role in joint shape morphogenesis, and abnormalities of the joints relating to abnormal fetal movements can have long-term health implications. While mechanical stimulation during development has been shown to be important for joint shape, the relationship between the quantity of mechanical stimulation and the growth and shape change of developing cartilage has not been quantified. In this study, we culture embryonic chick limb explants in vitro in order to reveal how the magnitude of applied movement affects key aspects of the developing joint shape. We hypothesise that joint shape is affected by movement magnitude in a dose-dependent manner, and that a movement regime most representative of physiological fetal movements will promote characteristics of normal shape development. Chick hindlimbs harvested at seven days of incubation were cultured for six days, under either static conditions or one of three different dynamic movement regimes, then assessed for joint shape, cell survival and proliferation. We demonstrate that a physiological magnitude of movement in vitro promotes the most normal progression of joint morphogenesis, and that either under-stimulation or over-stimulation has detrimental effects. Providing insight into the optimal level of mechanical stimulation for cartilage growth and morphogenesis is pertinent to gaining a greater understanding of the etiology of conditions such as developmental dysplasia of the hip, and is also valuable for cartilage tissue engineering.




Chandaria, V. V., McGinty, J., & Nowlan, N. C. (2016). Characterising the effects of in vitro mechanical stimulation on morphogenesis of developing limb explants. Journal of Biomechanics, 49(15), 3635–3642.

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