Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1592–1605 | Cite as

Fluid Dynamics Analysis of a Novel Micropatterned Cell Bioreactor

  • Yuhong Cui
  • Bo Huo
  • Shujin Sun
  • Fan Yang
  • Yuxin Gao
  • Jun Pan
  • Mian LongEmail author


Although flow-based bioreactor has been widely used to provide sufficient mass transportation and nutrient supply for cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis, the underlying mechanism of cell responses to applied flow at single cell level remains unclear. This study has developed a novel bioreactor that combines flow bioreactor with microfabrication technique to isolate individual cells onto micropatterned substrate. A mechanical model has also been developed to quantify the flow field or the microenvironment around the single cell; flow dynamics has been analyzed on five geometrically different patterns of circle-, cube-, 1:2 ellipse-, 1:3 ellipse-, and rectangle-shaped “virtual cells.” The results of this study have demonstrated that the flow field is highly pattern dependent, and all the hydrodynamic development length, cell spacing, and orientation of inlet velocity vector are crucial for maintaining a fully developed flow. This study has provided a theoretical basis for optimizing the design of micropatterned flow bioreactor and a novel approach to understand the cell mechanotransduction and cell–surface interaction at single cell level.


Fluid dynamics Cell bioreactor Micropattern 

List of symbols

a, b, h

Length, width, height of an isolated cell


Active test region

(c − a)/a = (d  b)/b

Spacing ratio

c, d

Length, width of an unit


Hydrodynamic diameter (=2WH/(W + H))


Body force per unit mass

L, W, H

Length, width, height of a flow chamber

Linlet, Loutlet, Lwall

Inlet, outlet, wall length of a flow chamber

Linlet/D, Loutlet/D, Lwall/D

Non-dimensional hydrodynamic development inlet, outlet, wall length in a micropatterned flow chamber

\( L^{\prime}_{\text{inlet}} \), \( L^{\prime}_{\text{outlet}} \), \( L^{\prime}_{\text{wall}} \)

Applied inlet, outlet, wall length in a flow chamber when the computation is need


Pressure of flow field


Relative pressure


Flow flux of flowing fluid


Reynolds number


Velocity vector of flowing fluid

α, β, γ

Non-dimensional hydrodynamic development lengths of inlet, outlet, wall in a cell seeded flow chamber

Θ, ∇

Substantive derivative, vector differential operator


Dynamic viscosity of flowing fluid


Mass density of flowing fluid



The authors are grateful to Xin Wang, Yunfeng Wu, and Yabin Zhai for computational assistance. This study was supported by the following grants: the Natural Science Foundation of China, #30730032 and #30870606; Knowledge Innovation Program of CAS, #KJCX2-YW-L08; the National Key Basic Research Foundation of China, #2006CB910303; and the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China, #2007AA02Z306.

Conflict of interest statement

No conflict of interested is assigned to the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10439_2011_250_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (92 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 91 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuhong Cui
    • 1
  • Bo Huo
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Shujin Sun
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Fan Yang
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yuxin Gao
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jun Pan
    • 5
  • Mian Long
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MechanicsTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Microgravity, Institute of MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.National Microgravity LaboratoryBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Center for Biomechanics and Bioengineering, Institute of MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Bioengineering CollegeChongqing UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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