Wavy-Walled Bioreactor Supports Increased Cell Proliferation and Matrix Deposition in Engineered Cartilage Constructs
Bueno, Ericka M.
Barabino, Gilda A.
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Hydrodynamic forces in bioreactors can decisively influence extracellular matrix deposition in engineered cartilage constructs. In the present study, the reduced fluid shear, high-axial mixing environment provided by a wavy-walled bioreactor was exploited in the cultivation of cartilage constructs using polyglycolic acid scaffolds seeded with bovine articular chondrocytes. Increased growth as defined by weight, cell proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition was observed in cartilage constructs from wavy-walled bioreactors in comparison with those from spinner flasks cultured under the same conditions. The wet weight composition of 4-week constructs from the wavy-walled bioreactor was similar to that of spinner flask constructs, but the former were 60% heavier due to equally higher incorporation of extracellular matrix and 30% higher cell population. It is most likely that increased construct matrix incorporation was a result of increased mitotic activity of chondrocytes cultured in the environment of the wavy-walled bioreactor. A layer of elongated cells embedded in type I collagen formed at the periphery of wavy-walled bioreactor and spinner flask constructs, possibly as a response to local shear forces. On the basis of the robustness and reproducibility of the extracellular matrix composition of cartilage constructs, the wavy-walled bioreactor demonstrated promise as an experimental cartilage tissue-engineering vessel. Increased construct growth in the wavy-walled bioreactor may lead to enhanced mechanical properties and expedited in vitro cultivation.