Mechanobiological Strategies to Enhance Stem Cell Functionality for Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering

Muhammad Shafiq, Onaza Ali, Seong Beom Han, Dong Hwee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cells have been extensively used in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering; however, they often lose their functionality because of the inflammatory microenvironment. This leads to their poor survival, retention, and engraftment at transplantation sites. Considering the rapid loss of transplanted cells due to poor cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions during transplantation, it has been reasoned that stem cells mainly mediate reparative responses via paracrine mechanisms, including the secretion of extracellular vesicles (EVs). Ameliorating poor cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions may obviate the limitations associated with the poor retention and engraftment of transplanted cells and enable them to mediate tissue repair through the sustained and localized presentation of secreted bioactive cues. Biomaterial-mediated strategies may be leveraged to confer stem cells enhanced immunomodulatory properties, as well as better engraftment and retention at the target site. In these approaches, biomaterials have been exploited to spatiotemporally present bioactive cues to stem cell-laden platforms (e.g., aggregates, microtissues, and tissue-engineered constructs). An array of biomaterials, such as nanoparticles, hydrogels, and scaffolds, has been exploited to facilitate stem cells function at the target site. Additionally, biomaterials can be harnessed to suppress the inflammatory microenvironment to induce enhanced tissue repair. In this review, we summarize biomaterial-based platforms that impact stem cell function for better tissue repair that may have broader implications for the treatment of various diseases as well as tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number747398
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 3

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DK was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019R1A2C2004437 and 2020R1A4A3079755) and the MSIT (Ministry of Science and ICT), Korea, under the ICT Creative Consilience program (IITP-2020-0-01819) supervised by the IITP (Institute for Information and communications Technology Planning and Evaluation).

Funding Information:
Authors thank members of the Applied Mechanobiology Group at the Korea University for thoughtful discussion regarding the mechanobiology of stem cells. This work was supported by KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology Program, National Research Foundation of Korea, and Ministry of Science and ICT.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Shafiq, Ali, Han and Kim.


  • biomaterials
  • cell fate modulation
  • cell therapy
  • immunosuppression
  • mechanobiology
  • regenerative medicine
  • stem cell
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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