Modeling the Process of Fabricating Cell-Encapsulated Tissue Scaffolds and the Process-Induced Cell Damage
Tissue engineering is an emerging field aimed to combine biological, engineering and material methods to create a biomimetic three dimensional (3D) environment to control cells proliferation and functional tissue formation. In such an artificial structural environment, a scaffold, made from biomaterial(s), plays an essential role by providing a mechanical support and biological guidance platform. Hence, fabrication of tissue scaffolds is of a fundamental importance, yet a challenging task, in tissue engineering. This task becomes more challenging if living cells need to be encapsulated in the scaffolds so as to fabricate scaffolds with structures to mimic the native ones, mainly due to the issue of process-induced cell damage. This research aims to develop novel methods to model the process of fabricating cell-encapsulated scaffolds and process-induced cell damage. Particularly, this research focuses on the scaffold fabrication process based on the dispensing-based rapid prototyping technique - one of the most promising scaffold fabrication methods nowadays, by which a 3D scaffold is fabricated by laying down multiple, precisely formed layers in succession. In the dispensing-based scaffold fabrication process, the flow behavior of biomaterials solution can significantly affect the flow rate of material dispensed, thus the structure of scaffold fabricated. In this research, characterization of flow behavior of materials was studied; and models to represent the flow behaviour and its influence on the scaffold structure were developed. The resultant models were shown able to greatly improve the scaffold fabrication in terms of process parameter determination. If cells are encapsulated in hydrogel for scaffold fabrication, cell density can affect the mechanical properties of hydrogel scaffolds formed. In this research, the influence of cell density on mechanical properties of hydrogel scaffolds was investigated. Furthermore, finite element analysis (FEA) of mechanical properties of scaffolds with varying cell densities was performed.The results show that the local stress and strain energy on cells varies at different cell densities. The method developed may greatly facilitate hydrogel scaffolds design to minimize cell damage in scaffold and promote tissue regeneration. . In the cell-encapsulated scaffold fabrication process, cells inevitably suffer from mechanical forces and other process-induced hazards. In such a harsh environment, cells deform and may be injured, even damaged due to mechanical breakage of cell membrane. In this research, three primary physical variables: shear stress, exposure time, and temperature were examined and investigated with regard to their effects on cell damage. Cell damage laws through the development phenomenal models and computational fluidic dynamic (CFD) models were established; and their applications to the cell-encapsulated scaffold fabrication process were pursued. The results obtained show these models and modeling methods not only allow one to optimize process parameters to preserve cell viability but also provide a novel strategy to probe cell damage mechanism in microscopic view.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Copyright DateNovember 2013
Tissue Engineering, Biofabrication, cell damage, tissue scaffold