A 3D printed mechanical bioreactor for investigating mechanobiology and soft tissue mechanics

Elsevier

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Available online 10 August 2018

open access

MethodsX

Abstract

Mechanical loading is an important cue for directing stem cell fate and engineered tissue formation in vitro. Stem cells cultured on 2-dimensional (D) substrates and in 3D scaffolds have been shown to differentiate toward bone, tendon, cartilage, ligament, and skeletal muscle lineages depending on their exposure to mechanical stimuli. To apply this mechanical stimulus in vitro, mechanical bioreactors aneeded. However, current bioreactor systems are challenged by their high cost, limited ability for customization, and lack of force measurement capabilities. We demonstrate the use of 3-dimensional printing (3DP) technology to design and fabricate a low-cost custom bioreactor system that can be used to apply controlled mechanical stimuli to cells in culture and measure the mechanical properties of small soft tissues. The results of our in vitro studies and mechanical evaluations show that 3DP technology is feasible as a platform for developing a low-cost, customizable, and multifunctional mechanical bioreactor system.

• 3DP technology was used to print a multifunctional bioreactor system/tensile load frame for a fraction of the cost of commercial systems.

• The system mechanically stimulated cells in culture and evaluated the mechanical properties of soft tissues.

• This system is easily customizable and can be used to evaluate multiple types of soft tissues.

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Abbreviations

3DP

3-dimensional printing

ABS

acrylonitrile butadiene styrene

CAD

computer-aided design

DAPI

4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole

DAQ

data acquisition device

D

dimensional

DMEM

Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium

FBS

fetal bovine serum

MSCs

mesenchymal stem cells, MSC-constructs, MSC-seeded collagen sponges

MTTFs

mouse tail tendon fascicles

NI

National Instruments

PBS

phosphate buffered saline

Keywords

Mechanical Bioreactor

3D Printing

Stem Cells

Mechanobiology

Soft Tissue Biomechanics

Tissue Engineering

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