Drainage and diversion of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through shunt systems is the most common treatment for hydrocephalus, but complications due to tissue obstruction of the catheter occur in up to 61% of patients. Although shunt systems have undergone limited technological advancements to resist mammalian cell adhesion, there is a need to further reduce adhesion that can exacerbate obstruction. The high intrinsic variability in clinical studies and an inability to predict chronic adhesion of host cells in vitro while maintaining the environmental conditions observed in hydrocephalus have impeded progress. We designed the hydrocephalus shunt catheter bioreactor (HSCB) to measure inflammatory cell adhesion under experimentally manipulated conditions of CSF pressure, pulsation rate, and flow rates. For a 20-h period, astrocytes were perfused through the pulsatile flow system, and adhesion on silicone catheters was recorded. These results were compared with those obtained under static cell culture conditions. Astrocyte adhesion was significantly increased under conditions of increased flow rate (0.25 and 0.30 mL/min), and a trend toward increased adhesion was observed under conditions of elevated pressure and pulsation rate. Because the HSCB represents physiologic conditions more accurately than static cell culture, our results suggest that standard static cell culturing techniques are insufficient to model inflammatory cell adhesion on catheters used in the treatment of hydrocephalus and that changes to the ventricular microenvironment can alter the mechanisms of cellular adhesion. The HSCB represents a relevant test system and is an effective model system for the analysis of cellular adhesion and occlusion of shunt catheters.
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