Mechanotransduction of vocal fold fibroblasts and mesenchymal stromal cells in the context of the vocal fold mechanome

Rebecca S. Bartlett, Joel D. Gaston, Shuyun Ye, Christina Kendziorski, Susan L. Thibeault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The design of cell-based therapies for vocal fold tissue engineering requires an understanding of how cells adapt to the dynamic mechanical forces found in the larynx. Our objective was to compare mechanotransductive processes in therapeutic cell candidates (mesenchymal stromal cells from adipose tissue and bone marrow, AT-MSC and BM-MSC) to native cells (vocal fold fibroblasts-VFF) in the context of vibratory strain. A bioreactor was used to expose VFF, AT-MSC, and BM-MSC to axial tensile strain and vibration at human physiological levels. Microarray, an empirical Bayes statistical approach, and geneset enrichment analysis were used to identify significant mechanotransductive pathways associated with the three cell types and three mechanical conditions. Two databases (Gene Ontology, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) were used for enrichment analyses. VFF shared more mechanotransductive pathways with BM-MSC than with AT-MSC. Gene expression that appeared to distinguish the vibratory strain condition from polystyrene condition for these two cells types related to integrin activation, focal adhesions, and lamellipodia activity, suggesting that vibratory strain may be associated with cytoarchitectural rearrangement, cell reorientation, and extracellular matrix remodeling. In response to vibration and tensile stress, BM-MSC better mimicked VFF mechanotransduction than AT-MSC, providing support for the consideration of BM-MSC as a cell therapy for vocal fold tissue engineering. Future research is needed to better understand the sorts of physical adaptations that are afforded to vocal fold tissue as a result of focal adhesions, integrins, and lamellipodia, and how these adaptations could be exploited for tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Jan 23 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Fibroblasts
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Mesenchymal stromal cells
  • Vibration
  • Vocal folds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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