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Keywords:

  • oxygen concentration;
  • fluid-induced shear stress;
  • bioreactor;
  • hepatocytes

A myriad of bioreactor configurations have been investigated as extracorporeal medical support systems for temporary replacement of vital organ functions. In recent years, studies have demonstrated that the rotating bioreactors have the potential to be utilized as bioartificial liver assist devices (BLADs) owing to their advantage of ease of scalability of cell-culture volume. However, the fluid movement in the rotating chamber will expose the suspended cells to unwanted flow structures with abnormally high shear conditions that may result in poor cell stability and in turn lower the efficacy of the bioreactor system. In this study, we compared the hydrodynamic performance of our modified rotating bioreactor design with that of an existing rotating bioreactor design. Computational fluid dynamic analysis coupled with experimental results were employed in the optimization process for the development of the modified bioreactor design. Our simulation results showed that the modified bioreactor had lower fluid induced shear stresses and more uniform flow conditions within its rotating chamber than the conventional design. Experimental results revealed that the cells within the modified bioreactor also exhibited better cell-carrier attachment, higher metabolic activity, and cell viability compared to those in the conventional design. In conclusion, this study was able to provide important insights into the flow physics within the rotating bioreactors, and help enhanced the hydrodynamic performance of an existing rotating bioreactor for BLAD applications. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1002–1012, 2013