A mesofluidics-based test platform for systematic development of scaffolds for in situ cardiovascular tissue engineering

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Abstract

Recently, in situ tissue engineering has emerged as a new approach to obtain autologous, living replacement tissues with off-the-shelf availability. The method is based on the use of an instructive biodegradable scaffold that is capable of repopulation with host cells in situ and subsequent tissue formation. This approach imposes high demands on scaffold properties. For cardiovascular grafts, the repopulation with endogenous cells from the circulation is further hypothesized to be influenced by the hemodynamic environment of the scaffold. To systematically study the effect of scaffold properties on the response of circulating cells, we aimed to develop a mesofluidics-based in vitro test platform that enables on-stage investigation of the interaction of circulating cells with three-dimensional (3D) synthetic scaffolds under physiologic hemodynamic conditions. The test platform consists of a custom-developed cross-flow chamber that houses small-scale 3D scaffolds. The cross-flow chamber is incorporated into a flow-loop to drive a cell suspension along the scaffold with physiological wall shear stress and perfusion pressure. The fluidics system is validated numerically and experimentally using a computational fluid dynamics model and real-time microbead tracing studies, demonstrating a fully developed flow profile with a homogeneous shear stress distribution over the scaffold. Wall shear stresses and pressure can be controlled independently, well within the target physiological range (0-8 Pa and 0-100 mmHg, respectively). Bench-top evaluation is performed using electrospun poly(¿-caprolactone) scaffolds with varying fiber diameter, exposed to a suspension of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in pulsatile flow for 72¿h. Cell adhesion and infiltration are monitored using time-lapsed confocal laser scanning microscopy. In conclusion, we have successfully developed a mesofluidics platform to study cell-scaffold interactions under hemodynamic conditions in vitro. This platform not only enables us to systematically screen and develop potential scaffolds for future in situ cardiovascular tissue engineering approaches, but also acts as a tool to further elucidate processes as observed in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-485
JournalTissue Engineering. Part C: Methods
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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