Modeling of flow-induced shear stress applied on 3D cellular scaffolds: Implications for vascular tissue engineering

Ayelet Lesman, Yaron Blinder, Shulamit Levenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Novel tissue-culture bioreactors employ flowinduced shear stress as a means of mechanical stimulation of cells. We developed a computational fluid dynamics model of the complex three-dimensional (3D) microstructure of a porous scaffold incubated in a direct perfusion bioreactor. Our model was designed to predict high shear-stress values within the physiological range of those naturally sensed by vascular cells (1-10 dyne/cm2), and will thereby provide suitable conditions for vascular tissue-engineering experiments. The model also accounts for cellular growth, which was designed as an added cell layer grown on all scaffold walls. Five model variants were designed, with geometric differences corresponding to cell-layer thicknesses of 0, 50, 75, 100, and 125 mm. Four inlet velocities (0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 cm/s) were applied to each model. Wall shear-stress distribution and overall pressure drop calculations were then used to characterize the relation between flow rate, shear stress, cell-layer thickness, and pressure drop. The simulations showed that cellular growth within 3D scaffolds exposes cells to elevated shear stress, with considerably increasing average values in correlation to cell growth and inflow velocity. Our results provide in-depth analysis of the microdynamic environment of cells cultured within 3D environments, and thus provide advanced control over tissue development in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-654
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioreactor
  • Blood vessels
  • Computational fluid dynamics model
  • Scaffolds
  • Shear stress
  • Tissue engineering


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