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Mimicking Cartilage Mechanochemical Interactions with Organ-on-Chip Models


Background: Mechanical loading of articular cartilage triggers the anabolic and catabolic activities of chondrocytes. Thus, cartilage mechanical stimulation affects tissue homeostasis, in turn influencing functional integrity. Unbalances in this homeostasis increase the probability of degeneration and the development of osteoarthritis (OA). Representative organ-level models of cartilage are still lacking, limiting the current understanding of cartilage mechano-biology. Organ-on-chip technology provides a platform to recreate physiologically relevant humanized micro-environments.

We have previously developed a mechanically actuated cartilage-on-chip platform, which allows high control of physiological compressive stress. In this context, further research using this model will include elucidating the phenotypic effects of compressive stress on chondrocytes, healthy and OA-affected. We hypothesise that the mechanical input will lead to diverse effects on extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling and disease progression.

Goal: Contribute to yielding insights into the mechanisms of mechanochemical stimulation of the chondrocytes and its effects in the physiological and pathophysiological function, using a microfabricated organ-on-chip system.

Techniques applied:

-          Micro-fabrication
-          Cell culture
-          Gene expression analysis
-          Biochemical assays
-          Imaging

Supervisor S. le Gac (Severine)
Associate Professor
dr. L.S. Moreira Teixeira Leijten (Liliana)
Assistant Professor
C.A. Paggi (Carlo Alberto)
PhD Candidate

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