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Keywords:

  • transmural flow;
  • vascular tissue engineering;
  • media equivalent;
  • oxygen transport;
  • fibrin gel;
  • smooth muscle cell

Abstract

Nutrient transport limitation remains a fundamental issue for in vitro culture of engineered tissues. In this study, perfusion bioreactor configurations were investigated to provide uniform delivery of oxygen to media equivalents (MEs) being developed as the basis for tissue-engineered arteries. Bioreactor configurations were developed to evaluate oxygen delivery associated with complete transmural flow (through the wall of the ME), complete axial flow (through the lumen), and a combination of these flows. In addition, transport models of the different flow configurations were analyzed to determine the most uniform oxygen profile throughout the tissue, incorporating direct measurements of tissue hydraulic conductivity, cellular O2 consumption kinetics, and cell density along with ME physical dimensions. Model results indicate that dissolved oxygen (DO) uniformity is improved when a combination of transmural and axial flow is implemented; however, detrimental effects could occur due to lumenal pressure exceeding the burst pressure or damaging interstitial shear stress imparted by excessive transmural flow rates or decreasing hydraulic conductivity due to ME compaction. The model was verified by comparing predicted with measured outlet DO concentrations. Based on these results, the combination of a controlled transmural flow coupled with axial flow presents an attractive means to increase the transport of nutrients to cells within the cultured tissue to improve growth (increased cell and extracellular matrix concentrations) as well as uniformity. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009; 104: 1197–1206. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.