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Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2011 Apr;10(2):259-68. doi: 10.1007/s10237-010-0232-8. Epub 2010 Jun 12.

Comparative chondrogenesis of human cells in a 3D integrated experimental-computational mechanobiology model.

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LaBS, Department of Structural Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, 32 piazza Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy.


We present an integrated experimental-computational mechanobiology model of chondrogenesis. The response of human articular chondrocytes to culture medium perfusion, versus perfusion associated with cyclic pressurisation, versus non-perfused culture, was compared in a pellet culture model, and multiphysic computation was used to quantify oxygen transport and flow dynamics in the various culture conditions. At 2 weeks of culture, the measured cell metabolic activity and the matrix content in collagen type II and aggrecan were greatest in the perfused+pressurised pellets. The main effects of perfusion alone, relative to static controls, were to suppress collagen type I and GAG contents, which were greatest in the non-perfused pellets. All pellets showed a peripheral layer of proliferating cells, which was thickest in the perfused pellets, and most pellets showed internal gradients in cell density and matrix composition. In perfused pellets, the computed lowest oxygen concentration was 0.075 mM (7.5% tension), the maximal oxygen flux was 477.5 nmol/m(2)/s and the maximal fluid shear stress, acting on the pellet surface, was 1.8 mPa (0.018 dyn/cm(2)). In the non-perfused pellets, the lowest oxygen concentration was 0.003 mM (0.3% tension) and the maximal oxygen flux was 102.4 nmol/m(2)/s. A local correlation was observed, between the gradients in pellet properties obtained from histology, and the oxygen fields calculated with multiphysic simulation. Our results show up-regulation of hyaline matrix protein production by human chondrocytes in response to perfusion associated with cyclic pressurisation. These results could be favourably exploited in tissue engineering applications.

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