Computational fluid dynamics for enhanced tracheal bioreactor design and long-segment graft recellularization

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 13;11(1):1187. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80841-w.


Successful re-epithelialization of de-epithelialized tracheal scaffolds remains a challenge for tracheal graft success. Currently, the lack of understanding of the bioreactor hydrodynamic environment, and its relation to cell seeding outcomes, serve as major obstacles to obtaining viable tracheal grafts. In this work, we used computational fluid dynamics to (a) re-design the fluid delivery system of a trachea bioreactor to promote a spatially uniform hydrodynamic environment, and (b) improve the perfusion cell seeding protocol to promote homogeneous cell deposition. Lagrangian particle-tracking simulations showed that low rates of rotation provide more uniform circumferential and longitudinal patterns of cell deposition, while higher rates of rotation only improve circumferential uniformity but bias cell deposition proximally. Validation experiments with human bronchial epithelial cells confirm that the model accurately predicts cell deposition in low shear stress environments. We used the acquired knowledge from our particle tracking model, as a guide for long-term tracheal repopulation studies. Cell repopulation using conditions resulting in low wall shear stress enabled enhanced re-epithelialization of long segment tracheal grafts. While our work focuses on tracheal regeneration, lessons learned in this study, can be applied to culturing of any tissue engineered tubular scaffold.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioreactors
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Re-Epithelialization / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Swine
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry
  • Trachea / physiology*
  • Trachea / transplantation*