• perfusion bioreactor;
  • human mesenchymal stem cells;
  • flow rate;
  • shear stress;
  • hydrodynamic modeling;
  • lattice-Boltzmann method


Shear stress is an important biomechanical parameter in regulating human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) construct development. In this study, the biomechanical characteristics of hMSCs within highly porous 3-D poly (ethylene terephthalate) (PET) matrices in a perfusion bioreactor system were analyzed for two flow rates of 0.1 and 1.5 mL/min, respectively over a 20-day culture period. A 1.4 times higher proliferation rate, higher CFU-F formation, and more fibronectin and HSP-47 secretion at day 20 were observed at the flow rate of 0.1 mL/min compared to those at the flow rate of 1.5 mL/min. The higher flow rate of 1.5 mL/min upregulated osteogenic differentiation potential at day 20 as measured by the expression of alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium deposition in the matrix after 14 days osteogenic induction, consistent with those reported in literatures. Mathematical modeling indicated that shear stress existed in the range of 1 × 10−5 to 1 × 10−4 Pa in the constructs up to a depth of 70 µm due to flow penetration in the porous constructs. Analysis of oxygen transport in the constructs for the two flow rates yielded oxygen levels significantly higher than those at which cell growth and metabolism are affected (Jiang et al., 1996). This indicates that differences in convective transport have no significant influence on cell growth and metabolism for the range of flow rates studied. These results demonstrate that shear stress is an important microenvironment parameter that regulates hMSC construct development at a range significantly lower than those reported previously in the perfusion system. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2007;96: 584–595. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.