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Acta Biomater. 2012 Dec;8(12):4334-41. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.07.007. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Microbubbles as biocompatible porogens for hydrogel scaffolds.

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Cooper Union, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003, USA.


In this study, we explored the application of lipid-shelled, gas-filled microbubbles as a method for creating on-demand microporous hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering. The technique allowed for homogenous distribution of cells and micropores within the scaffold, increasing the absorption coefficient of large solutes (70kDa dextran) over controls in a concentration-dependent manner. The stability of the gas phase of the microbubbles depended on several factors, including the initial size distribution of the microbubble suspension, as well as the temperature and pressure during culture. Application of pressure cycles provided controlled release of the gas phase to generate fluid-filled micropores with remnant lipid. The resulting microporous agarose scaffolds were biocompatible, leading to a twofold increase in engineered cartilage properties (E(Y)=492±42kPa for the bubble group vs. 249±49kPa for the bubble-free control group) over a 42-day culture period. Our results suggest that microbubbles offer a simple and robust method of modulating mass transfer in cell-seeded hydrogels through mild pressurization, and the methodology may be expanded in the future to include focused ultrasound for improved spatio-temporal control.

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