Tamara Alliston, PhD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Our research focuses on the molecular pathways controlling mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, how these pathways coordinate with physical cues to influence mechanical integrity of normal skeletal tissue, and how they can be harnessed to repair tissue damaged in degenerative skeletal disease. In particular we focus on defining the function of TGFβ in coordinating physical and biochemical cues to regulate skeletal cell differentiation. To answer these questions we combine molecular, cellular, physiologic, and materials science approaches. This interdisciplinary approach will lead to the identification of targets to prevent skeletal disease or to improve skeletal repair.

Research Summary: 
Our research focuses on the molecular pathways controlling mesenchymal stem cell differentiation



Osteocyte dysfunction promotes osteoarthritis through MMP13-dependent suppression of subchondral bone homeostasis.

Bone research

Mazur CM, Woo JJ, Yee CS, Fields AJ, Acevedo C, Bailey KN, Kaya S, Fowler TW, Lotz JC, Dang A, Kuo AC, Vail TP, Alliston T

Investigating Osteocytic Perilacunar/Canalicular Remodeling.

Current osteoporosis reports

Yee CS, Schurman CA, White CR, Alliston T

Improvement of Cartilage Repair With Biologically Regulated Marrow Stimulation by Blocking TGF-ß1 in A Rabbit Osteochondral Defect Model.

Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine

Hajime Utsunomiya, Xueqin Gao, Zhenhan Deng, Haizi Cheng, Alex Scibetta, Sudheer Ravuri, Walter R. Lowe, Marc J. Philippon, Tamara Alliston, Johnny Huard

Bone Quality Sleuths: Uncovering Tissue-Level Mechanisms of Bone Fragility in Human Type 2 Diabetes.

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Alliston T, Schafer A

Chronic kidney disease and aging differentially diminish bone material and microarchitecture in C57Bl/6 mice.


Heveran CM, Schurman CA, Acevedo C, Livingston EW, Howe D, Schaible EG, Hunt HB, Rauff A, Donnelly E, Carpenter RD, Levi M, Lau AG, Bateman TA, Alliston T, King KB, Ferguson VL

T1?-based fibril-reinforced poroviscoelastic constitutive relation of human articular cartilage using inverse finite element technology.

Quantitative imaging in medicine and surgery

Wan C, Ge L, Souza RB, Tang SY, Alliston T, Hao Z, Li X

Glucocorticoids cause mandibular bone fragility and suppress osteocyte perilacunar-canalicular remodeling.

Bone reports

Alemi AS, Mazur CM, Fowler TW, Woo JJ, Knott PD, Alliston T

Bone Marrow Lesions in Osteoarthritis: What Lies Beneath.

Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Alliston T, Hernandez CJ, Findlay DM, Felson DT, Kennedy OD

Treatment with anti-Sclerostin antibody to stimulate mandibular bone formation.

Head & neck

Tamplen M, Fowler T, Markey J, Knott PD, Suva LJ, Alliston T

Contributions of Material Properties and Structure to Increased Bone Fragility for a Given Bone Mass in the UCD-T2DM Rat Model of Type 2 Diabetes.

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Acevedo C, Sylvia M, Schaible E, Graham JL, Stanhope KL, Metz LN, Gludovatz B, Schwartz AV, Ritchie RO, Alliston TN, Havel PJ, Fields AJ

Fatigue as the missing link between bone fragility and fracture.

Nature biomedical engineering

Acevedo C, Stadelmann VA, Pioletti DP, Alliston T, Ritchie RO

A modular approach to creating large engineered cartilage surfaces.

Journal of biomechanics

Ford AC, Chui WF, Zeng AY, Nandy A, Liebenberg E, Carraro C, Kazakia G, Alliston T, O'Connell GD

Osteocyte-Intrinsic TGF-ß Signaling Regulates Bone Quality through Perilacunar/Canalicular Remodeling.

Cell reports

Dole NS, Mazur CM, Acevedo C, Lopez JP, Monteiro DA, Fowler TW, Gludovatz B, Walsh F, Regan JN, Messina S, Evans DS, Lang TF, Zhang B, Ritchie RO, Mohammad KS, Alliston T

Dynamic imaging demonstrates that pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) suppress IL-6 transcription in bovine nucleus pulposus cells.

Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Tang X, Alliston T, Coughlin D, Miller S, Zhang N, Waldorff EI, Ryaby JT, Lotz JC

Glucocorticoid suppression of osteocyte perilacunar remodeling is associated with subchondral bone degeneration in osteonecrosis.

Scientific reports

Fowler TW, Acevedo C, Mazur CM, Hall-Glenn F, Fields AJ, Bale HA, Ritchie RO, Lotz JC, Vail TP, Alliston T

Smad4 regulates growth plate matrix production and chondrocyte polarity.

Biology open

Whitaker AT, Berthet E, Cantu A, Laird DJ, Alliston T

Effects of cell type and configuration on anabolic and catabolic activity in 3D co-culture of mesenchymal stem cells and nucleus pulposus cells.

Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Ouyang A, Cerchiari AE, Tang X, Liebenberg E, Alliston T, Gartner ZJ, Lotz JC

Parallel mechanisms suppress cochlear bone remodeling to protect hearing.


Jáuregui EJ, Akil O, Acevedo C, Hall-Glenn F, Tsai BS, Bale HA, Liebenberg E, Humphrey MB, Ritchie RO, Lustig LR, Alliston T

Mechanobiology of TGFß signaling in the skeleton.

Matrix biology : journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology

Rys JP, Monteiro DA, Alliston T

Discrete spatial organization of TGFß receptors couples receptor multimerization and signaling to cellular tension.


Rys JP, DuFort CC, Monteiro DA, Baird MA, Oses-Prieto JA, Chand S, Burlingame AL, Davidson MW, Alliston TN

Correlating high-resolution magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy and gene analysis in osteoarthritic cartilage.

NMR in biomedicine

Tufts L, Shet Vishnudas K, Fu E, Kurhanewicz J, Ries M, Alliston T, Li X

Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) Inhibit Matrix Metalloproteinase-13 Expression in Human Annulus Fibrosus Cells.

The Spine Journal

Xinyan Tang, Rachel Willardson, Dezba Coughlin, Tamara Alliston, Jeffrey C. Lotz

Biological regulation of bone quality.

Current osteoporosis reports

Alliston T

How tough is brittle bone? Investigating osteogenesis imperfecta in mouse bone.

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Carriero A, Zimmermann EA, Paluszny A, Tang SY, Bale H, Busse B, Alliston T, Kazakia G, Ritchie RO, Shefelbine SJ

Disrupted bone remodeling leads to cochlear overgrowth and hearing loss in a mouse model of fibrous dysplasia.

PloS one

Akil O, Hall-Glenn F, Chang J, Li A, Chang W, Lustig LR, Alliston T, Hsiao EC

Ligand-independent and tissue-selective androgen receptor inhibition by pyrvinium.

ACS chemical biology

Lim M, Otto-Duessel M, He M, Su L, Nguyen D, Chin E, Alliston T, Jones JO

Evolution of a developmental mechanism: Species-specific regulation of the cell cycle and the timing of events during craniofacial osteogenesis.

Developmental biology

Hall J, Jheon AH, Ealba EL, Eames BF, Butcher KD, Mak SS, Ladher R, Alliston T, Schneider RA

Development of a porous poly(DL-lactic acid-co-glycolic acid)-based scaffold for mastoid air-cell regeneration.

The Laryngoscope

Gould TW, Birchall JP, Mallick AS, Alliston T, Lustig LR, Shakesheff KM, Rahman CV

Smad3 binds Scleraxis and Mohawk and regulates tendon matrix organization.

Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Berthet E, Chen C, Butcher K, Schneider RA, Alliston T, Amirtharajah M

Accumulation of exogenous activated TGF-ß in the superficial zone of articular cartilage.

Biophysical journal

Albro MB, Nims RJ, Cigan AD, Yeroushalmi KJ, Alliston T, Hung CT, Ateshian GA

Regulation of postnatal bone homeostasis by TGFß.

BoneKEy reports

Tang SY, Alliston T

Prolonged alendronate treatment prevents the decline in serum TGF-ß1 levels and reduces cortical bone strength in long-term estrogen deficiency rat model.


Jia J, Yao W, Amugongo S, Shahnazari M, Dai W, Lay YA, Olvera D, Zimmermann EA, Ritchie RO, Li CS, Alliston T, Lane NE

Matrix metalloproteinase-13 is required for osteocytic perilacunar remodeling and maintains bone fracture resistance.

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Tang SY, Herber RP, Ho SP, Alliston T

Smad3 Modulates Tendon Gene Expression and Interacts with Key Tendon Transcription Factors Not a clinical study.

The Journal Of Hand Surgery

Mohana Amirtharajah, Ellora Berthet, Carol Chen, Tamara Alliston

ECM stiffness primes the TGFß pathway to promote chondrocyte differentiation.

Molecular biology of the cell

Allen JL, Cooke ME, Alliston T


Osteoarthritis and cartilage

K. Shet, F. Liang, T. Alliston, H. Yoshihara, J. Kurhanewicz, M. Ries, A. Horvai, X. Li

Age-related changes in the plasticity and toughness of human cortical bone at multiple length scales.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Zimmermann EA, Schaible E, Bale H, Barth HD, Tang SY, Reichert P, Busse B, Alliston T, Ager JW, Ritchie RO

Structured three-dimensional co-culture of mesenchymal stem cells with chondrocytes promotes chondrogenic differentiation without hypertrophy.

Osteoarthritis and cartilage

Cooke ME, Allon AA, Cheng T, Kuo AC, Kim HT, Vail TP, Marcucio RS, Schneider RA, Lotz JC, Alliston T

Local tissue properties of human osteoarthritic cartilage correlate with magnetic resonance T(1) rho relaxation times.

Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Tang SY, Souza RB, Ries M, Hansma PK, Alliston T, Li X

The use of polyacrylamide gels for mechanical calibration of cartilage--a combined nanoindentation and unconfined compression study.

Journal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials

Li C, Allen J, Alliston T, Pruitt LA

Examination of Bone Ossification Markers in Cochlear Development.

The Laryngoscope

Jolie Chang, Kristin Butcher, Omar Akil, Rich Schneider, Lawrence Lustig, Tamara Alliston

Changes in cortical bone response to high-fat diet from adolescence to adulthood in mice.

Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA

Ionova-Martin SS, Wade JM, Tang S, Shahnazari M, Ager JW, Lane NE, Yao W, Alliston T, Vaisse C, Ritchie RO

Tissue-specific calibration of extracellular matrix material properties by transforming growth factor-ß and Runx2 in bone is required for hearing.

EMBO reports

Chang JL, Brauer DS, Johnson J, Chen CG, Akil O, Balooch G, Humphrey MB, Chin EN, Porter AE, Butcher K, Ritchie RO, Schneider RA, Lalwani A, Derynck R, Marshall GW, Marshall SJ, Lustig L, Alliston T

In situ Materials Characterization using the Tissue Diagnostic Instrument.

Polymer testing

Tang SY, Mathews P, Randall C, Yurtsev E, Fields K, Wong A, Kuo A, Alliston T, Hansma P

Osteopontin deficiency increases bone fragility but preserves bone mass.


Thurner PJ, Chen CG, Ionova-Martin S, Sun L, Harman A, Porter A, Ager JW, Ritchie RO, Alliston T

Tissue Interactions in Long Bone Development.

Bone and Development

Céline Colnot, Tamara Alliston

Reduced size-independent mechanical properties of cortical bone in high-fat diet-induced obesity.


Ionova-Martin SS, Do SH, Barth HD, Szadkowska M, Porter AE, Ager JW, Ager JW, Alliston T, Vaisse C, Ritchie RO

The tissue diagnostic instrument.

The Review of scientific instruments

Hansma P, Yu H, Schultz D, Rodriguez A, Yurtsev EA, Orr J, Tang S, Miller J, Wallace J, Zok F, Li C, Souza R, Proctor A, Brimer D, Nogues-Solan X, Mellbovsky L, Peña MJ, Diez-Ferrer O, Mathews P, Randall C, Kuo A, Chen C, Peters M, Kohn D, Buckley J, Li X, Pruitt L, Diez-Perez A, Alliston T, Weaver V, Lotz J

A tense situation: forcing tumour progression.

Nature reviews. Cancer

Butcher DT, Alliston T, Weaver VM

Pharmacologic inhibition of the TGF-beta type I receptor kinase has anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on bone.

PloS one

Mohammad KS, Chen CG, Balooch G, Stebbins E, McKenna CR, Davis H, Niewolna M, Peng XH, Nguyen DH, Ionova-Martin SS, Bracey JW, Hogue WR, Wong DH, Ritchie RO, Suva LJ, Derynck R, Guise TA, Alliston T

Chapter 53 Transforming Growth Factor-ß.

Principles of Bone Biology

Sarah L. Dallas, Tamara Alliston, Lynda F. Bonewald

Elevated TGF-beta2 signaling in dentin results in sex related enamel defects.

Archives of oral biology

Saeki K, Hilton JF, Alliston T, Habelitz S, Marshall SJ, Marshall GW, Denbesten P

TGF-beta regulation of osteoblast differentiation and bone matrix properties.

Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions

Alliston T

Smads In Mesenchymal Differentiation.

Smad Signal Transduction

Rik Derynck, Lisa Choy, Tamara Alliston

TGF-beta regulates the mechanical properties and composition of bone matrix.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Balooch G, Balooch M, Nalla RK, Schilling S, Filvaroff EH, Marshall GW, Marshall SJ, Ritchie RO, Derynck R, Alliston T

Repression of bone morphogenetic protein and activin-inducible transcription by Evi-1.

The Journal of biological chemistry

Alliston T, Ko TC, Cao Y, Liang YY, Feng XH, Chang C, Derynck R

Medicine: interfering with bone remodelling.


Alliston T, Derynck R

Expression and Localization of Serum/Glucocorticoid-Induced Kinase in the Rat Ovary: Relation to Follicular Growth and Differentiation 1.


Tamara N. Alliston, Ignacio J. Gonzalez-Robayna, Patricia Buse, Gary L. Firestone, JoAnne S. Richards

Molecular mechanisms of ovulation and luteinization.

Molecular and cellular endocrinology

Richards JS, Russell DL, Robker RL, Dajee M, Alliston TN

Ovarian Cell Differentiation: A Cascade of Multiple Hormones, Cellular Signals, and Regulated Genes.

Proceedings of the 1993 Laurentian Hormone Conference


Ovarian cell differentiation: a cascade of multiple hormones, cellular signals, and regulated genes.

Recent progress in hormone research

Richards JS, Fitzpatrick SL, Clemens JW, Morris JK, Alliston T, Sirois J