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Each cell forever interacts with its extracellular matrix (ECM); a stem cell relies on this interaction to guide differentiation. The stiffness, nanotopography, protein composition, stress and strain inherent to any given ECM influences stem cell lineage commitment. This interaction is dynamic, multidimensional and reciprocally evolving through time, and from this concerted exchange the macroscopic tissues that comprise living organisms are formed. Mesenchymal stem cells can give rise to bone, cartilage, tendon and muscle thus attempts to manipulate their differentiation must heed the physical properties of incredibly complex native microenvironments to realize regenerative goals.
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