• bone tissue engineering;
  • bone marrow stromal cells;
  • flow perfusion bioreactor;
  • biodegradable polymers;
  • starch-based scaffolds


This study aims to investigate the effect of culturing conditions (static and flow perfusion) on the proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stromal cells seeded on two novel scaffolds exhibiting distinct porous structures. Specifically, scaffolds based on SEVA-C (a blend of starch with ethylene vinyl alcohol) and SPCL (a blend of starch with polycaprolactone) were examined in static and flow perfusion culture. SEVA-C scaffolds were formed using an extrusion process, whereas SPCL scaffolds were obtained by a fiber bonding process. For this purpose, these scaffolds were seeded with marrow stromal cells harvested from femoras and tibias of Wistar rats and cultured in a flow perfusion bioreactor and in 6-well plates for 3, 7, and 15 days. The proliferation and alkaline phosphatase activity patterns were similar for both types of scaffolds and for both culture conditions. However, calcium content analysis revealed a significant enhancement of calcium deposition on both scaffold types cultured under flow perfusion. This observation was confirmed by Von Kossa-stained sections and tetracycline fluorescence. Histological analysis and confocal images of the cultured scaffolds showed a much better distribution of cells within the SPCL scaffolds than the SEVA-C scaffolds, which had limited pore interconnectivity, under flow perfusion conditions. In the scaffolds cultured under static conditions, only a surface layer of cells was observed. These results suggest that flow perfusion culture enhances the osteogenic differentiation of marrow stromal cells and improves their distribution in three-dimensional, starch-based scaffolds. They also indicate that scaffold architecture and especially pore interconnectivity affect the homogeneity of the formed tissue. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res 67A: 87–95, 2003