Millions of patients experience bone loss as a result of degenerative disease, trauma, or surgery (Xu, Othman, Hong, Peptan, & Magin, 2005). Healthy bone tissue constantly regenerates itself and remodels its architecture to meet the mechanical demands imposed on it, as described by Wolff’s “Law of Bone Remodeling” (Wolff, 1986). However, this capacity is severely limited when there is insufficient blood supply, mechanical instability, or competition with highly proliferating tissues (Pinheiro & Gerbei, 2006). Furthermore, severe bone losses can be detrimental to individuals, because they reduce the bone’s ability to remodel, repair, and regenerate itself (Luo et al., 2005; Nordin & Franklin, 2001), ultimately resulting in the deterioration of a patient’s health, and, in some instances, death (Luo et al., 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Magnetic Resonance Microscopy: Magnetic Resonance Microscopy is a technique that entails the application of a radiofrequency (RF) pulse to excite a tissue or specimen at resonance, and the acquisition of signal in the form of RF energy during subsequent relaxation of tissue magnetization. This method provides quantitative parameters that are directly dependent on the tissue properties.
Scaffold: In bone tissue engineering, a scaffold is a biomaterial surface used for the development of new bone tissue in vitro.
Ultrasound Stimulation: Ultrasound waves are sound waves with frequencies greater than 20,000 Hz. Low intensity pulsed ultrasound has been found to be effective at stimulating the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts.
Bone Tissue Engineering: Bone tissue engineering focuses on the development of bone tissue in vitro (using osteoblasts, scaffolds, and bioactive molecules) generally for in vivo implantation.
Bone Differentiation Promoting Factors: Bone differentiation promoting factors are compounds such as dexamethasone, ascorbic acid, and ß-glycerophosphate that cause the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stem cells capable of differentiating into cells such as osteoblasts, adipocytes, chrondroblasts, fibroblasts, and muscle cells.
Osteoblasts: Osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) produce osteoid, a component of the bone matrix, and cause mineralization of the matrix.