Biophysical regulation of hematopoietic stem cells
Blood is renewed throughout the entire life. The stem cells of the blood, called hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), are responsible for maintaining a supply of all types of fresh blood cells. In contrast to other stem cells, the clinical application of these cells is well established and HSC transplantation is an established life-saving therapy for patients suffering from haematological disorders. Despite their efficient functionality throughout life in vivo, controlling HSC behaviour in vitro (including their proliferation and differentiation) is still a major task that has not been resolved with standard cell culture systems. Targeted HSC multiplication in vitro could be beneficial for many patients, because HSC supply is limited. The biology of these cells and their natural microenvironment – their niche – remain a matter of ongoing research. In recent years, evidence has come to light that HSCs are susceptible to physical stimuli. This makes the regulation of HSCs by engineering physical parameters a promising approach for the targeted manipulation of these cells for clinical applications. Nevertheless, the biophysical regulation of these cells is still poorly understood. This review sheds light on the role of biophysical parameters in HSC biology and outlines which knowledge on biophysical regulation identified in other cell types could be applied to HSCs.