, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 497-510

Theoretical analysis of engineered cartilage oxygenation: influence of construct thickness and media flow rate

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A novel parallel-plate bioreactor has been shown to modulate the mechanical and biochemical properties of engineered cartilage by the application of fluid-induced shear stress. Flow or perfusion bioreactors may improve tissue development via enhanced transport of nutrients or gases as well as the application of mechanical stimuli, or a combination of these factors. The goal of this study was to complement observed experimental responses to flow by simulating oxygen transport within cartilage constructs of different thicknesses (250 μm or 1 mm). Using numerical computation of convection–diffusion equations, the evaluation of the tissue oxygenation is performed. Four culture conditions are defined based on tissue thickness and flow rates ranging from 0 to ∼25 mL min−1. Under these experimental conditions results show a mean oxygen concentration within the tissue varying from 0.01 to 0.19 mol m−3 as a function of the tissue thickness and the magnitude of the applied shear stress. More generally, the influence of shear stress varying (via flow rate modification) from 10−3 to 10 dynes cm−2 on the tissue oxygenation is studied. The influence on the results of important physical parameters such as the maximal oxygen consumption rate of cells is discussed. Lastly, the importance of oxygen concentration in the lower chamber and its relevance to tissue oxygenation are highlighted by the model results.