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Schulte, Julia; Friedrich, Anja; Hollweck, Trixi; König, Fabian; Eblenkamp, Markus; Beiras-Fernandez, Andres; Fano, Cornelia; Hagl, Christian; Akra, Bassil (2014): A Novel Seeding and Conditioning Bioreactor for Vascular Tissue Engineering. In: Processes, Vol. 2, No. 3: pp. 526-547


Multiple efforts have been made to develop small-diameter tissue engineered vascular grafts using a great variety of bioreactor systems at different steps of processing. Nevertheless, there is still an extensive need for a compact all-in-one system providing multiple and simultaneous processing. The aim of this project was to develop a new device to fulfill the major requirements of an ideal system that allows simultaneous seeding, conditioning, and perfusion. The newly developed system can be actuated in a common incubator and consists of six components: a rotating cylinder, a pump, a pulse generator, a control unit, a mixer, and a reservoir. Components that are in direct contact with cell media, cells, and/or tissue allow sterile processing. Proof-of-concept experiments were performed with polyurethane tubes and collagen tubes. The scaffolds were seeded with fibroblasts and endothelial cells that were isolated from human saphenous vein segments. Scanning electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry showed better seeding success of polyurethane scaffolds in comparison to collagen. Conditioning of polyurethane tubes with 100 dyn/cm2 resulted in cell detachments, whereas a moderate conditioning program with stepwise increase of shear stress from 10 to 40 dyn/cm2 induced a stable and confluent cell layer. The new bioreactor is a powerful tool for quick and easy testing of various scaffold materials for the development of tissue engineered vascular grafts. The combination of this bioreactor with native tissue allows testing of medical devices and medicinal substances under physiological conditions that is a good step towards reduction of animal testing. In the long run, the bioreactor could turn out to produce tissue engineered vascular grafts for human applications “at the bedside”.