Biomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology
Cell proliferation within a fluid-filled porous tissue-engineering scaffold depends on a sensitive choice of pore geometry and flow rates: regions of high curvature encourage cell proliferation, while a critical flow rate is required to promote growth for certain cell types. When the flow rate is too slow, the nutrient supply is limited; when it is too fast, cells may be damaged by the high fluid shear stress. As a result, determining appropriate tissue-engineering-construct geometries and operating regimes poses a significant challenge that cannot be addressed by experimentation alone. In this paper, we present a mathematical theory for the fluid flow within a pore of a tissue-engineering scaffold, which is coupled to the growth of cells on the pore walls. We exploit the slenderness of a pore that is typical in such a scenario, to derive a reduced model that enables a comprehensive analysis of the system to be performed. We derive analytical solutions in a particular case of a nearly piecewise constant growth law and compare these with numerical solutions of the reduced model. Qualitative comparisons of tissue morphologies predicted by our model, with those observed experimentally, are also made. We demonstrate how the simplified system may be used to make predictions on the design of a tissue-engineering scaffold and the appropriate operating regime that ensures a desired level of tissue growth.
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