Cell seeding and attachment in three-dimensional scaffolds is a key step in tissue engineering with implications for cell differentiation and tissue development. In this work, two new seeding methods were investigated using human chondrocytes and polyglycolic acid (PGA) fibrous mesh scaffolds. A simple semi-static seeding method using culture plates and tissue flasks was developed as an easy-to-perform modification of static seeding. An alginate-loading method was also studied, using alginate hydrogel as an adjuvant for entrapping cells within PGA scaffolds. Both the semi-static and PGA–alginate methods produced more homogeneous cell distributions than conventional static and dynamic seeding. Using 20 × 106 cells, whereas the seeding efficiency for static seeding was only 52%, all other techniques produced seeding efficiencies of ≥ 90%. With 40 × 106 cells, the efficiency of semi-static seeding declined to 74% while the dynamic and PGA–alginate methods retained their ability to accommodate high cell numbers. The seeded scaffolds were cultured in recirculation bioreactors to determine the effect of seeding method on cartilage production. Statically seeded scaffolds did not survive the 5-week cultivation period. Deposition of extracellular matrix in scaffolds seeded using the semi-static and PGA–alginate methods was more uniform compared with scaffolds seeded using the dynamic method. The new semi-static and PGA–alginate seeding methods developed in this work are recommended for tissue engineering because they provide substantial benefits compared with static seeding in terms of seeding efficiency, cell distribution, and cartilage deposition while remaining simple and easy to execute. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2011
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