Dynamic Coculture of a Prevascularized Engineered Bone Construct
Nguyen, Bao-Ngoc Bich
Fisher, John P
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The generation of functional, vascularized tissues is a key challenge for the field of tissue engineering. Before clinical implantations of tissue engineered bone constructs can succeed, in vitro fabrication needs to address limitations in large-scale tissue development, including controlled osteogenesis and an inadequate vasculature network to prevent necrosis of large constructs. The tubular perfusion system (TPS) bioreactor is an effective culturing method to augment osteogenic differentiation and maintain viability of human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC)-seeded scaffolds while they are developed in vitro. To further enhance this process, we developed a novel osteogenic growth factors delivery system for dynamically cultured hMSCs using microparticles encapsulated in three-dimensional alginate scaffolds. In light of this increased differentiation, we characterized the endogenous cytokine distribution throughout the TPS bioreactor. An advantageous effect in the ‘outlet’ portion of the uniaxial growth chamber was discovered due to the system’s downstream circulation and the unique modular aspect of the scaffolds. This unique trait allowed us to carefully tune the differentiation behavior of specific cell populations. We applied the knowledge gained from the growth profile of the TPS bioreactor to culture a high-volume bone composite in a 3D-printed femur mold. This resulted in a tissue engineered bone construct with a volume of 200cm3, a 20-fold increase over previously reported sizes. We demonstrated high viability of the cultured cells throughout the culture period as well as early signs of osteogenic differentiation. Taking one step closer toward a viable implant and minimize tissue necrosis after implantation, we designed a composite construct by coculturing endothelial cells (ECs) and differentiating hMSCs, encouraging prevascularization and anastomosis of the graft with the host vasculature. We discovered the necessity of cell to cell proximity between the two cell types as well as preference for the natural cell binding capabilities of hydrogels like collagen. Notably, the results suggested increased osteogenic and angiogenic potential of the encapsulated cells when dynamically cultured in the TPS bioreactor, suggesting a synergistic effect between coculture and applied shear stress. This work highlights the feasibility of fabricating a high-volume, prevascularized tissue engineered bone construct for the regeneration of a critical size defect.