Assessment of the interplay between scaffold geometry, induced shear stresses, and cell proliferation within a packed bed perfusion bioreactor

Biotechnol Prog. 2019 Nov;35(6):e2880. doi: 10.1002/btpr.2880. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


By favoring cell proliferation and differentiation, perfusion bioreactors proved efficient at optimizing cell culture. The aim of this study was to quantify cell proliferation within a perfusion bioreactor and correlate it to the wall shear stress (WSS) distribution by combining 3-D imaging and computational fluid dynamics simulations.NIH-3T3 fibroblasts were cultured onto a scaffold model made of impermeable polyacetal spheres or Polydimethylsiloxane cubes. After 1, 2, and 3 weeks of culture, constructs were analyzed by micro-computed tomography (μCT) and quantification of cell proliferation was assessed. After 3 weeks, the volume of cells was found four times higher in the stacking of spheres than in the stacking of cube.3D-μCT reconstruction of bioreactors was used as input for the numerical simulations. Using a lattice-Boltzmann method, we simulated the fluid flow within the bioreactors. We retrieved the WSS distribution (PDF) on the scaffolds surface at the beginning of cultivation and correlated this distribution to the local presence of cells after 3 weeks of cultivation. We found that the WSS distributions strongly differ between spheres and cubes even if the porosity and the specific wetted area of the stackings were very similar. The PDF is narrower and the mean WSS is lower for cubes (11 mPa) than for spheres (20 mPa). For the stacking of spheres, the relative occupancy of the surface sites by cells is maximal when WSS is greater than 20 mPa. For cubes, the relative occupancy is maximal when the WSS is lower than 10 mPa. The discrepancies between spheres and cubes are attributed to the more numerous sites in stacking of spheres that may induce 3-D (multi-layered) proliferation.

Keywords: X-ray micro-tomography; cell proliferation; lattice-Boltzmann simulation; perfusion bioreactor; tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioreactors*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Perfusion
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tissue Scaffolds*
  • X-Ray Microtomography