Sufficient nutrient and oxygen transport is a potent modulator of cell proliferation in in vitro tissue-engineered constructs. The lack of oxygen and culture medium can create a potentially lethal environment and limit cellular metabolic activity and growth. Diffusion through scaffold and multi-cellular tissue typically limits transport in vitro, leading to potential hypoxic regions and reduction in the viable tissue thickness. For the in vitro generation of clinically relevant tissue-engineered grafts, current nutrient diffusion limitations should be addressed. Major approaches to overcoming these include culture with bioreactors, scaffolds with artificial microvasculature, oxygen carriers and pre-vascularization of the engineered tissues. This study focuses on the development and utilization of a new perfusion culture system to provide adequate nutrient delivery to cells within large three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds. Perfusion of oxygenated culture medium through porous hollow fiber (HF) integrated within 3D free form fabricated (FFF) scaffolds is proposed. Mouse pre-myoblast (C2C12) cells cultured on scaffolds of poly(ethylene-oxide-terephthalate)-poly(butylene-terephthalate) block copolymer (300PEOT55PBT45) integrated with porous HF membranes of modified poly(ether-sulfone) (mPES, Gambro GmbH) is used as a model system. Various parameters such as fiber transport properties, fiber spacing within a scaffold and medium flow conditions are optimized. The results show that four HF membranes integrated with the scaffold significantly improve the cell density and cell distribution. This study provides a basis for the development of a new HF perfusion culture methodology to overcome the limitations of nutrient diffusion in the culture of large 3D tissue constructs.
Bettahalli, N.M.S., J. Vicente, L. Moroni, G.A. Higuera, C.A. van Blitterswijk, M. Wessling, D.F. Stamatialis