My main research interest is the role of mechanics in development, disease and the regeneration of tissues, in particular patterning and structure. Anatomically, my main field of expertise is the spine, starting from embryonic segmentation (somitogenesis), via adolescent iuvenile scoliosis to intervertebral disc degeneration. The basic hypothesis in my work is that mechanical strain can be instructive for cell behaviour (in morphogenesis and regeneration), but also induce inflammation (in degeneration and osteo-arthritis). Clinically, I am interested to apply mechanobiology to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, e.g. in the spine, the pelvic floor, the articular joints, the parodontal ligament, and in the retina.
The main tools I am working with are bioreactors to culture living tissues, organs or embryos onder well-controlled (dynamic) loading conditions. These bioreactors vary in size to house whole intervertebral discs (70 mm in diameter) down to early chick embryos (5 mm in length). The embryo culture system comes with a axiozoom microscope for time-lapse imaging. Furthermore, we do micro-indentation on very soft tissues with a Piuma indenter.
Molecular techniques, imaging, interesting disease models where mechanics may play a role, like Alzheimer and cancer.
Schmitz M, Nelemans B, Smit TH (2016): A submerged filter paper sandwich for long-term ex ovo time-lapse imaging of early chick embryos. J Vis. Exp. doi: 10.3791/54636
Ghazanfari S, Khademhoseini A, Smit TH (2016): Mechanisms of lamellar collagen formation in connective tissues. Biomaterials 97: 74-84
Ruiz-Zapata AM, Kerkhof MH, Ghazanfari S, Zandieh-Doulabi B, Stoop R, Smit TH, Helder MN (2016): Vaginal fibroblastic cells from women with pelvic organ prolapse produce matrices with increased stiffness and collagen content. Sci. Rep. 6:22971
Fazaeli S, Ghazanfari S, Everts V, Smit TH, Koolstra JH (2016): The Contribution of Collagen Fibers to the Mechanical Compressive Properties of the Temporomandibular Joint Disc. Osteoarthritis & Cartilage 24: 1292-1301
Klumpers DD, Smit TH, Mooney DJ (2015): The effect of growth-mimicking continuous strain on the early stages of skeletal development in micromass culture. PlosONE 10(4): e0124948
25–30 May 2020, Spetses Island, Greece