Stem cells have the ability to self-renew and to differentiate into multiple mature cell types during early life and
growth. Stem cells adhesion, proliferation, migration and differentiation are affected by biochemical, mechanical and
physical surface properties of the surrounding matrix in which stem cells reside and stem cells can sensitively feel and respond
to the microenvironment of this matrix. More and more researches have proven that three dimensional (3D) culture
can reduce the gap between cell culture and physiological environment where cells always live in vivo. This review summarized
recent findings on the studies of matrix mechanics that control stem cells (primarily mesenchymal stem cells
(MSCs)) fate in 3D environment, including matrix stiffness and extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness. Considering the exchange
of oxygen and nutrients in 3D culture, the effect of fluid shear stress (FSS) on fate decision of stem cells was also
discussed in detail. Further, the difference of MSCs response to matrix stiffness between two dimensional (2D) and 3D
conditions was compared. Finally, the mechanism of mechanotransduction of stem cells activated by matrix mechanics
and FSS in 3D culture was briefly pointed out.
Keywords: Fluid shear stress (FSS), matrix stiffness, mechanotransduction, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), stem cells fate,
three dimensions (3D).
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