Professor Liyun Wang
126 Spencer Lab, Newark, DE 19716
Faculty appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Biomechanics & Movement Science Program,
and the Center for Biomedical Engineering Research
Our current research focuses on biomechanics in musculoskeletal system, in particular fluid and solute transport in bone and cartilage. Osteocytes, the most numerous cells in bone, are critical for bone health and bone quality. These star-like cells form an interconnected network among themselves and also with other bone cells lining bone surfaces. They function as sensor cells to detect external mechanical stimuli and to pass the information to other bone cells responsible for new bone formation (osteoblasts) and removal of existing bone (osteoclasts). Since osteocytes are completely encased in mineralized bone matrix, their survival and function are entirely dependent on transport of solutes (metabolites, growth factors, cytokines, and other signaling molecules) through the interconnected pore system around their cell bodies and long protrusions (termed lacunar-canalicular system). Despite advances in delineating transport pathways in bone, little is known about the mechanisms involved in moving biological molecules to and from osteocytes in vivo. The other active program is to understand the role of subchondral bone in the development of osteoarthritis (OA) due to aging and altered joint loading. Being a highly vascularized tissue, bone may respond to the altered joint loading rapidly by increasing bone turnover, which may in turn lead to changes in cartilage.
Several projects are being undertaken in my laboratory (1) to investigate how solute diffusion and convection are modulated by the ultrastructures of the fluid pathway and mechanical stimuli in normal and diseased bones; (2) to develop novel imaging methods to quantify the interstitial fluid flow in bone and cartilage; (3) to use animal models to elucidate the etiology of OA.