Background: Bone engineering requires thicker three-dimensional constructs than the maximum thickness supported by standard cell-culture techniques (2 mm). A flow-perfusion bioreactor was developed to provide chemotransportation to thick (6 mm) scaffolds.
Methods: Polyurethane scaffolds, seeded with murine preosteoblasts, were loaded into a novel bioreactor. Control scaffolds remained in static culture. Samples were harvested at days 2, 4, 6, and 8 and analyzed for cellular distribution, viability, metabolic activity, and density at the periphery and core.
Results: By day 8, static scaffolds had a periphery cell density of 67% +/- 5.0%, while in the core it was 0.3% +/- 0.3%. Flow-perfused scaffolds demonstrated peripheral cell density of 94% +/- 8.3% and core density of 76% +/- 3.1% at day 8.
Conclusions: Flow perfusion provides chemotransportation to thick scaffolds. This system may permit high throughput study of 3D tissues in vitro and enable prefabrication of biological constructs large enough to solve clinical problems.