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Mechanical signalling plays a pivotal role in maintaining bone cell function and remodelling of the skeleton. Our previous work has highlighted the potential role of mechano-induction in tissue engineering applications. In particular, we have highlighted the potential for using magnetic particle techniques for tissue engineering applications. Previous studies have shown that manipulation of integrin attached magnetic particles leads to changes in intracellular calcium signalling within osteoblasts. However, due to the phenomenon of particle internalisation, previous studies have typically focused on short-term stimulation experiments performed within 1-2 h of particle attachment. For tissue engineering applications, bone tissue growth occurs over a period of 3-5 weeks. To date, no study has investigated the cellular responses elicited from osteoblasts over time following stimulation with internalised magnetic particles. Here, we demonstrate the long-term biocompatibility of 4.5 microm RGD-coated particles with osteoblasts up to 21 days in culture, and detail a time course of responses elicited from osteoblasts following mechanical stimulation with integrin attached magnetic particles (<2h post attachment) and internalised particles (>48h post attachment). Mechanical manipulation of both integrin attached and internalised particles were found to induce intracellular calcium signalling. It is concluded that magnetic particles offer a tool for applying controlled mechanical forces to osteoblasts, and can be used to stimulate intracellular calcium signalling over prolonged periods of time. Magnetic particle technology presents a potentially valuable tool for tissue engineering which permits the delivery of highly localised mechano-inductive forces directly to cells.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biomech

Publication Date



40 Suppl 1


S96 - 104


Bioreactors, Bone Development, Calcium Signaling, Humans, Integrins, Magnetics, Mechanotransduction, Cellular, Osteoblasts, Particle Size, Tissue Engineering