Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Rachael A. Oldinski


Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have emerged as viable approaches to repairing osteochondral tissue damage, especially with the implementation of biomaterials and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is a synthetic and non-biodegradable polymer that has received attention as a tissue engineering scaffold and cartilage replacement due to its inherent viscoelasticity and biocompatibility. This work investigated the use of mechanical cues to trigger mechanotransduction pathways and thereby guide human MSCs towards a desired differentiation lineage.

PVA scaffolds with a range of compressive moduli (1 - 600 kPa) were fabricated by varying molecular weight, solution concentration, and freeze-thaw cycles. Mass loss rates and changes in stiffness were not significantly different after 7 days of dynamic compression or static culture in standard MSC culture medium. Short-term dynamic loading of human MSC-seeded PVA scaffolds resulted in an increase in cell viability and collagen production for loaded versus static samples over 7 days of culture. Through a simple dynamic compressive loading sequence MSC viability and matrix protein production may increase on synthetic, bioinert PVA scaffolds. Lastly upstream processing of polymer fabrication and cell culture was conducted in preparation for studies on a custom designed dynamic compressive loading machine for cell-seeded scaffolds.



Number of Pages

164 p.