Mechanical homeostasis in tissue equivalents: a review


There is substantial evidence that growth and remodeling of load bearing soft biological tissues is to a large extent controlled by mechanical factors. Mechanical homeostasis, which describes the natural tendency of such tissues to establish, maintain, or restore a preferred mechanical state, is thought to be one mechanism by which such control is achieved across multiple scales. Yet, many questions remain regarding what promotes or prevents homeostasis. Tissue equivalents, such as collagen gels seeded with living cells, have become an important tool to address these open questions under well-defined, though limited, conditions. This article briefly reviews the current state of research in this area. It summarizes, categorizes, and compares experimental observations from the literature that focus on the development of tension in tissue equivalents. It focuses primarily on uniaxial and biaxial experimental studies, which are well-suited for quantifying interactions between mechanics and biology. The article concludes with a brief discussion of key questions for future research in this field.
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