• magnetic actuation;
  • 3D scaffold;
  • strain stimulus;
  • nutrient pumping


A novel magnetically actuated scaffold was used to explore the effects of strain stimulus on the proliferation and spatial distribution of smooth muscle cells and improve cell viability in the scaffold interior by pumping nutrients throughout the structure. Magnetically actuable scaffolds were fabricated in a tube shape by winding electrospun sheets of a biodegradable polymer modified with magnetic Fe2O3 nanoparticles. Prior to rolling, the sheets were seeded with smooth muscle cells and wound into tubes with diameter 5.2 mm and wall thickness 0.2 mm. The tubular scaffolds were actuated by a magnetic field to induce a cyclic crimping deformation, which applies strain stimulus to the cells and pumps nutrient fluid through the porous tube walls. Comparison with non-actuated controls shows that magnetic actuation increases the total cell count throughout the scaffold after 14 days of incubation. Furthermore, whereas cell density as a function of position through the tube wall thickness showed a minimum in the mid-interior in the controls after 14 days due to cell starvation, the actuated scaffolds displayed a maximum cell density. Comparison of cell distributions with the expected spatial variations in strain amplitude and nutrient flux implies that both strain stimulus and nutrient pumping are significant factors in cell proliferation. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 936–946. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.