Fergal O’Brien, PhD and Laoise McNamara, PhD
Mechanical stimuli play critical roles in directing skeletal tissue development, are fundamental to skeletal health and can play a role in the aetiology of disease. Physical exercise can have a powerful regenerative effect on skeletal tissues through stimulation of anabolic mechanosensitive cell signalling pathways. However, mechanical loading can also be injurious, and in degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, can propagate cell dysfunction and inflammation. Advances in understanding of the roles of specific mechanosensory machinery in response to loading, have highlighted molecular processes that can be targeted to promote regeneration. Improved understanding of the impact of mechanobiology on skeletal tissue development and regulation may enable identification of therapeutic targets, development of precision therapeutics and mechanically regulated biomaterials that promote regeneration, and enable restoration of healthy mechanical environments in disease.