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Perfusion Flow Bioreactor for 3D In Situ Imaging: Investigating Cell/ Biomaterials Interactions



J S. Stephens, James A. Cooper, Frederick R. Phelan Jr., Joy P. Dunkers


The capability to image cell/material interactions real time in a three-dimensional (3D) culture environment will aid in the further advancement of tissue engineering. This paper describes a perfusion flow bioreactor designed to hold tissue engineering scaffolds and allow for in situ imaging in an upright microscope. The bioreactor can hold a scaffold of desirable thickness for implantation (> 2 mm). Coupling 3D culture and perfusion flow leads to the creation of a more biomimetic culture environment. We examined the ability of the bioreactor to maintain cell viability outside of an incubator environment (temperature and pH stability), investigated the flow features of the system (flow induced shear stress), and determined the image quality in order to perform time-lapsed imaging of 2D and 3D cell culture. In situ imaging was done for 2D and 3D, culture and cell viability under perfusion flow (2.5 ml/min, 0.016 Pa) was verified. The visualization of cell response to their environment, in real time, will help to further elucidate the influences of biomaterial surface features, scaffold architectures, and flow induced shear on cell response and growth of new tissue.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering


bioreactor, imaging, microscopy, perfusion flow, tissue engineering


Stephens, J. , Cooper, J. , Phelan, F. and Dunkers, J. (2007), Perfusion Flow Bioreactor for 3D In Situ Imaging: Investigating Cell/ Biomaterials Interactions, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created July 1, 2007, Updated February 19, 2017