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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2001 Nov 5;75(3):369-78.

Surface transformation of bioactive glass in bioreactors simulating microgravity conditions. Part I: experimental study.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 3320 Smith Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6315, USA.


Surface modified bioactive glass with surface properties akin to those of the bone mineral phase is an attractive candidate for use as a microcarrier material for 3-D growth of bone-like tissue in rotating wall vessel bioreactors (RWVs). The critical surface properties of this material are the result of reaction in solution. Because an RWV environment is completely different from conditions previously employed for bioactive glass testing, a detailed study of the surface reactions is warranted. Under properly chosen conditions, RWVs can also provide a simulated microgravity environment for the bioactive glass (BG) particles. In this sense, this study is also a report on the behavior of a bioactive material under microgravity conditions simulated on earth. A high aspect ratio vessel (HARV) and carefully selected experimental conditions enabled the simulation of microgravity in our laboratory. A complimentary numerical study was simultaneously conducted to ascertain the appropriateness of the experimental parameters (particle size, particle density, medium density, medium viscosity, and rotational speed) that ensure simulated microgravity conditions for the glass particles in the HARV. Physiological solutions (pH 7.4) with and without electrolytes, and also with serum proteins, were used to study the change in surface character resulting from simulated microgravity. Control tests at normal gravity, both static and dynamic, were also conducted. Solution and surface analyses revealed major effects of simulated microgravity. The rates of leaching of constituent ions (Si-, Ca-, and P-ions) were greatly increased in all solutions tested. The enhanced dissolution was followed by the enhanced formation of bone-like minerals at the BG surface. This enhancement is expected to affect adsorption of serum proteins and attachment molecules, which, in turn, may favorably affect bone cell adhesion and function. The findings of the study are important for the use of bioactive materials as microcarriers to generate and analyze 3-D bone-like tissue structures in bioreactors under microgravity conditions or otherwise.

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