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Keywords:

  • topology optimization;
  • flow simulation;
  • porous scaffold;
  • flow mapping

Abstract

Shear stress is an important physical factor that regulates proliferation, migration, and morphogenesis. In particular, the homeostasis of blood vessels is dependent on shear stress. To mimic this process ex vivo, efforts have been made to seed scaffolds with vascular and other cell types in the presence of growth factors and under pulsatile flow conditions. However, the resulting bioreactors lack information on shear stress and flow distributions within the scaffold. Consequently, it is difficult to interpret the effects of shear stress on cell function. Such knowledge would enable researchers to improve upon cell culture protocols. Recent work has focused on optimizing the microstructural parameters of the scaffold to fine tune the shear stress. In this study, we have adopted a different approach whereby flows are redirected throughout the bioreactor along channels patterned in the porous scaffold to yield shear stress distributions that are optimized for uniformity centered on a target value. A topology optimization algorithm coupled to computational fluid dynamics simulations was devised to this end. The channel topology in the porous scaffold was varied using a combination of genetic algorithm and fuzzy logic. The method is validated by experiments using magnetic resonance imaging readouts of the flow field. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109:1844–1854. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.