Cellular mechanosensing in scaffold environments


Cardiovascular diseases are a growing concern worldwide, however, current treatments have many shortcomings. To overcome these shortcomings, in-situ cardiovascular tissue engineering has been proposed as a potential alternative. In in-situ cardiovascular tissue engineering, micro-fibrous electrospun scaffolds are used in a hemodynamic environment. As a consequence of this, cardiovascular cells in this environment sense and respond to biophysical cues such as (cyclic) strain and topological features. Two different processes influence the cell and its orientation in this biophysical microenvironment: contact guidance and strain avoidance. The underlying mechanisms of cellular sensing to these processes is unclear limiting the current design of scaffold environments.

During this PhD project, we would like to answer the following question ’How do cells sense their biophysical microenvironment’.  For this we will study quantitatively the sensing tools of the cell e.g. the focal adhesions (FAs) and the actin cytoskeleton in two-dimensional and three-dimensional environments by exploring advanced microscopy techniques ( e.g. Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM) and Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM)). This quantification can be used to improve the current cardiovascular tissue engineering strategies.


Researchers: A.B.C. (Gitta) Buskermolen.
Supervisors: C.V.C. (Carlijn) Bouten.

Funding by TU/e Impuls project 'CRE@TE'