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J Biomed Mater Res. 2001 May;55(2):242-53.

Bone tissue engineering in a rotating bioreactor using a microcarrier matrix system.

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Center for Advanced Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


A novel approach was utilized to grow in vitro mineralized bone tissue using lighter-than-water, polymeric scaffolds in a high aspect ratio rotating bioreactor. We have adapted polymer microencapsulation methods for the formation of hollow, lighter-than-water microcarriers of degradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid). Scaffolds were fabricated by sintering together lighter-than-water microcarriers from 500 to 860 microm in diameter to create a fully interconnected, three-dimensional network with an average pore size of 187 microm and aggregate density of 0.65 g/mL. Motion in the rotating bioreactor was characterized by numerical simulation and by direct measurement using an in situ particle tracking system. Scaffold constructs established a near circular trajectory in the fluid medium with a terminal velocity of 98 mm/s while avoiding collision with the bioreactor wall. Preliminary cell culture studies on these scaffolds show that osteoblast-like cells readily attached to microcarrier scaffolds using controlled seeding conditions with an average cell density of 6.5 x 10(4) cells/cm(2). The maximum shear stress imparted to attached cells was estimated to be 3.9 dynes/cm(2). In addition, cells cultured in vitro on these lighter-than-water scaffolds retained their osteoblastic phenotype and showed significant increases in alkaline phosphatase expression and alizarin red staining by day 7 as compared with statically cultured controls.

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