In silico bone mechanobiology

A review of computational modelling in bone mechanobiology, published in the Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Systems Biology & Medicine in 2016 and available here.


Mechanobiology, the study of the influence of mechanical loads on biological processes through signaling to cells, is fundamental to the inherent ability of bone tissue to adapt its structure in response to mechanical stimulation. The immense contribution of computational modeling to the nascent field of bone mechanobiology is indisputable, having aided in the interpretation of experimental findings and identified new avenues of inquiry. Indeed, advances in computational modeling have spurred the development of this field, shedding new light on problems ranging from the mechanical response to loading by individual cells to tissue differentiation during events such as fracture healing. To date, in silico bone mechanobiology has generally taken a reductive approach in attempting to answer discrete biological research questions, with research in the field broadly separated into two streams: (1) mechanoregulation algorithms for predicting mechanobiological changes to bone tissue and (2) models investigating cell mechanobiology. Future models will likely take advantage of advances in computational power and techniques, allowing multiscale and multiphysics modeling to tie the many separate but related biological responses to loading together as part of a larger systems biology approach to shed further light on bone mechanobiology. Finally, although the ever-increasing complexity of computational mechanobiology models will inevitably move the field toward patient-specific models in the clinic, the determination of the context in which they can be used safely for clinical purpose will still require an extensive combination of computational and experimental techniques applied to in vitro and in vivo applications.