Optimization of Media Change Intervals through Hydrogels Using Mathematical Models

Floor A.A. Ruiter, Jasia King, Sangita Swapnasrita, Stefan Giselbrecht, Roman Truckenmüller, Vanessa L.S. LaPointe, Matthew B. Baker, and Aurélie Carlier

Published: 2022


Three-dimensional cell culture in engineered hydrogels is increasingly used in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The transfer of nutrients, gases, and waste materials through these hydrogels is of utmost importance for cell viability and response, yet the translation of diffusion coefficients into practical guidelines is not well established. Here, we combined mathematical modeling, fluorescent recovery after photobleaching, and hydrogel diffusion experiments on cell culture inserts to provide a multiscale practical approach for diffusion. We observed a dampening effect of the hydrogel that slowed the response to concentration changes and the creation of a diffusion gradient in the hydrogel by media refreshment. Our designed model combined with measurements provides a practical point of reference for diffusion coefficients in real-world culture conditions, enabling more informed choices on hydrogel culture conditions. This model can be improved in the future to simulate more complicated intrinsic hydrogel properties and study the effects of secondary interactions on the diffusion of analytes through the hydrogel.

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