In bone tissue engineering experiments, fluid-induced shear stress is able to stimulate cells to produce mineralised extracellular matrix (ECM). The application of shear stress on seeded cells can for example be achieved through bioreactors that perfuse medium through porous scaffolds. The generated mechanical environment (i.e. wall shear stress: WSS) within the scaffolds is complex due to the complexity of scaffold geometry. This complexity has so far prevented setting an optimal loading (i.e. flow rate) of the bioreactor to achieve an optimal distribution of WSS for stimulating cells to produce mineralised ECM. In this study, we demonstrate an approach combining computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and mechano-regulation theory to optimise flow rates of a perfusion bioreactor and various scaffold geometries (i.e. pore shape, porosity and pore diameter) in order to maximise shear stress induced mineralisation. The optimal flow rates, under which the highest fraction of scaffold surface area is subjected to a wall shear stress that induces mineralisation, are mainly dependent on the scaffold geometries. Nevertheless, the variation range of such optimal flow rates are within 0.5–5 mL/min (or in terms of fluid velocity: 0.166–1.66 mm/s), among different scaffolds. This approach can facilitate the determination of scaffold-dependent flow rates for bone tissue engineering experiments in vitro, avoiding performing a series of trial and error experiments.
Full Access Link: Journal of Biomechanics