• adhesion;
  • bioreactor;
  • osteoblast;
  • polyurethane;
  • surface modification;
  • strain


Bioreactors can be used for mechanical conditioning and to investigate the mechanobiology of cells in vitro. In this study a polyurethane (PU), Chronoflex AL, was evaluated for use as a flexible cell culture substrate in a novel bioreactor capable of imparting cyclic uniaxial tensile strain to cells. PU membranes were plasma etched, across a range of operating parameters, in oxygen. Contact angle analysis and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed increases in wettability and surface oxygen were related to both etching power and duration. Atomic force microscopy demonstrated that surface roughness decreased after etching at 20 W but was increased at higher powers. The etching parameters, 20 W 40 s, produced membranes with high surface oxygen content (21%), a contact angle of 66° ± 7° and reduced topographical features. Etching and protein conditioning membranes facilitated attachment, and growth to confluence within 3 days, of MG-63 osteoblasts. After 2 days with uniaxial strain (1%, 30 cycles/min, 1500 cycles/day), cellular alignment was observed perpendicular to the principal strain axis, and found to increase after 24 h. The results indicate that the membrane supports culture and strain transmission to adhered cells. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 2356–2364, 2014.