Michael J. Mienaltowski

Current Research Areas

  1. Tendon proper and peritenon-derived stem/progenitor cells
  2.  Manipulation of niche for tissue engineering and insight into tissue (primarily tendon) development, maturation, and repair
  3.  Investigation of musculoskeletal cell and tissue phenotypes and molecular physiological states in health, injury, and illness

1. Stem/progenitors in and around tendons

Stem/progenitor cells in and around tendons serve as cell and trophic sources for tissue maintenance and repair. I have utilized in vitro models to analyze these progenitor populations, their pluripotent potentials, and more specifically their capabilities to recapitulate tendon formation, both as a model for extrinsic and intrinsic repair and as a tissue engineering approach. Improved understanding of the biology of these cells could lead to performance advances in elite athletes and performance species, besides just your average companion animal or human musculoskeletal wear and tear. [Publications PMID: 22871316,25005797]

2. Tissue niche

The niche of a tissue is the local microenvironment in which cells exist. The niche provides cues (chemical, molecular, mechanical) for the cells and harbors components that contribute to the surrounding structure and physiology. When pathology occurs, the niche is altered either primarily with the pathology (or genetics) or secondarily because of the pathology (or genetics). Moreover, sometimes the niche changes with development, maturation, or adaptation. The niche is complex. Past studies have specifically focused on the role of the niche in tendon development, maturation, and repair, with consideration in particular for collagen-rich tissues and collagen fibrillogenesis. Future studies will also focus on the molecular physiological role of the niche on other collagen-rich tissues. [Publications PMID:24443029, 24443018, 24157578, 24072490, 23592048, 23178232 ]

3. Linking cell and tissue phenotypes with molecular physiology and pathology

I have also focus on detecting how physiology changes down to the molecular level. Where possible, I use an approach that works from broad (functional genomics and structural morphology) to narrow (expression of a group of genes, protein content and localization) to understand physiological mechanisms related to health and homeostasis or injury and illness. This will help in establishing markers for various states of physiology. Moreover, it can aid in the mechanisms by which cells are functioning in their current surroundings, both as usual and under modified circumstances. With this research, past work has focused on development, maturation, and repair of musculoskeletal tissues. [Publications PMID:25005797, 20348544, 19751507, 18986532]