Dynamic Bioreactor Culture of High Volume Engineered Bone Tissue

Tissue Eng Part A. 2016 Feb;22(3-4):263-71. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2015.0395. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


Within the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, the fabrication of tissue grafts of any significant size--much less a whole organ or tissue--remains a major challenge. Currently, tissue-engineered constructs cultured in vitro have been restrained in size primarily due to the diffusion limit of oxygen and nutrients to the center of these grafts. Previously, we developed a novel tubular perfusion system (TPS) bioreactor, which allows the dynamic culture of bead-encapsulated cells and increases the supply of nutrients to the entire cell population. More interestingly, the versatility of TPS bioreactor allows a large range of engineered tissue volumes to be cultured, including large bone grafts. In this study, we utilized alginate-encapsulated human mesenchymal stem cells for the culture of a tissue-engineered bone construct in the size and shape of the superior half of an adult human femur (∼ 200 cm(3)), a 20-fold increase over previously reported volumes of in vitro engineered bone grafts. Dynamic culture in TPS bioreactor not only resulted in high cell viability throughout the femur graft, but also showed early signs of stem cell differentiation through increased expression of osteogenic genes and proteins, consistent with our previous models of smaller bone constructs. This first foray into full-scale bone engineering provides the foundation for future clinical applications of bioengineered bone grafts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bioreactors*
  • Bone and Bones* / cytology
  • Bone and Bones* / metabolism
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*