Microfluidic evidence of synergistic effects between mesenchymal stromal cell-derived biochemical factors and biomechanical forces to control endothelial cell function

Shuang Zhang, Bastiaan Tuk, Jeroen van de Peppel, Gert Jan Kremers, Marijke Koedam, Georg R. Pesch, Zaid Rahman, Remco M. Hoogenboezem, Eric M.J. Bindels, Johan W. van Neck, Pouyan E. Boukany, Johannes P.T.M. van Leeuwen, Bram C.J. van der Eerden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


A functional vascular system is a prerequisite for bone repair as disturbed angiogenesis often causes non-union. Paracrine factors released from human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BMSCs) have angiogenic effects on endothelial cells. However, whether these paracrine factors participate in blood flow dynamics within bone capillaries remains poorly understood. Here, we used two different microfluidic designs to investigate critical steps during angiogenesis and found pronounced effects of endothelial cell proliferation as well as chemotactic and mechanotactic migration induced by BMSC conditioned medium (CM). The application of BMSC-CM in dynamic cultures demonstrates that bioactive factors in combination with fluidic flow-induced biomechanical signals significantly enhanced endothelial cell migration. Transcriptional analyses of endothelial cells demonstrate the induction of a unique gene expression profile related to tricarboxylic acid cycle and energy metabolism by the combination of BMSC-CM factors and shear stress, which opens an interesting avenue to explore during fracture healing. Our results stress the importance of in vivo - like microenvironments simultaneously including biochemical, biomechanical and oxygen levels when investigating key events during vessel repair. Statement of significance: Our results demonstrate the importance of recapitulating in vivo - like microenvironments when investigating key events during vessel repair. Endothelial cells exhibit enhanced angiogenesis characteristics when simultaneous exposing them to hMSC-CM, mechanical forces and biochemical signals simultaneously. The improved angiogenesis may not only result from the direct effect of growth factors, but also by reprogramming of endothelial cell metabolism. Moreover, with this model we demonstrated a synergistic impact of mechanical forces and biochemical factors on endothelial cell behavior and the expression of genes involved in the TCA cycle and energy metabolism, which opens an interesting new avenue to stimulate angiogenesis during fracture healing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-359
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Shuang Zhang is supported by the China Scholarship Council through a PhD Research Fellowship Grant (No. 201709370052 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


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