Application of Fluid Flow for Functional Tissue Engineering of Bone Marrow Stromal Cells

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Virginia Tech

In the United States, nearly half a million bone graft operations are performed annually to repair defects arising from birth defects, trauma, and disease, making bone the second most transplanted tissue. Autogenous bone is the current gold standard for bone grafts; however it is in limited supply and results in a second injury at the donor site. A promising alternative is a tissue engineered bone graft composed of a biomaterial scaffold, pharmaceutics, and osteoprogenitor cells. One source of osteoprogenitor cells is bone marrow stroma, which can be obtained from the patient - minimizing the risk of an immune response - directed in vitro to proliferate, and differentiate into a bone-like tissue. To date, tissue engineered bone grafts have not been clinically effective; thus, strategies must be developed to improve efficacy. I hypothesize that to facilitate tissue healing in a manner similar to autogenous bone tissue engineering bone must possess a mineralized collagen matrix to support tissue integration, and angiogenic factors to stimulate vascular infiltration, and osteogenic factors to direct normal bone remodeling. I propose that these factors can be synthesized by osteoprogenitor cells in vitro when cultured under the appropriate conditions.

Previous work has demonstrated that perfusion culture of osteoprogenitor cells within 3D scaffolds stimulates phenotypic markers of osteoblastic differentiation, but those studies did not determine whether the effects were a consequence of shear stress or increased nutrient availability. Consequently, this work has involved studies in a planar geometry, where nutrient effects are negligible. Three studies that characterize the effect of fluid flow on osteoblastic differentiation of osteoprogenitor cells are presented here. The objective of the first study was to determine the effect of shear stress magnitude on cell density and osteocalcin deposition. In this study, radial flow chambers were used to generate a spatially dependent range of shear stresses (0.36 to 2.7 dynes/cm2) across single substrates, and immunofluorescent techniques were used to assay cell phenotype as a function of shear stress. The objective of the second study was to determine the effect of the duration of fluid flow on cell density and phenotypic markers of differentiation. Here, parallel plate flow chambers were used to generate a single shear stress at the cell surface, and entire cell layers were assayed for expression of osteoblastic genes. The objective of the third study was to compare continuous and intermittent fluid flow strategies. In this study, a microprocessor-controlled actuator was added to the flow loop to periodically halt flow, and markers of mechanosensation and osteoblastic differentiation were measured.

These studies demonstrated that shear stresses of 0.36 to 2.7 dynes/cm2 stimulate late phenotypic markers of osteoblastic differentiation but not cell proliferation. In addition, this osteogenic effect is sensitive to duration of fluid flow but insensitive to the magnitude of shear stress. Further, intermittent fluid flow enhances cell retention, biochemical markers of mechanotransduction, and synthesis of the angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Thus, these studies suggest that intermittent fluid flow may be an attractive component of a biodynamic bioreactor for in vitro manufacture of clinically effective tissue engineered bone grafts. Future studies will further investigate intermittent fluid flow strategies and three-dimensional studies with scaffolds suitable for bone tissue engineering.

Bone Marrow Stromal Cells, Osteoblastic Differentiation, Fluid Flow