A. Marella, V. Alberi, S. Scaglione describes a 3D fluidic bioreactor platform for articular tissue applications

Due to its avascular nature, articular cartilage exhibits a very limited capacity to regenerate and to repair. Although much of the engineered cartilage grafts so far proposed have successfully shown to mimic the morphological and biochemical appearance of hyaline cartilage, they are generally mechanically inferior to the natural tissue. In this study a new bioreactor device was realized to test innovative scaffolds under physiological stimulation (i.e. perfusion fluid flow and dynamic compression), with the aim to produce a more functional engineered tissue construct for articular applications. The bioreactor system has been properly designed to simultaneously provide static or dynamic compression and/or continuous perfusion to 3D engineered constructs, reproducing the physiological loads to which the articular cartilage is subjected. As piston for compression, a sintered stainless-steel filter was adopted to allow the perfusion of the culture media during physical stimulation. The culture chamber is composed by a hollow cylinder and a base realized as a single object. The chamber has been designed to accommodate simultaneously different constructs of any size and shape and stimulate them with perfusion and/or dynamic compression. A finites elements program was used to mimic the effects of perfusion and compression regime on the scaffolds cultured within the bioreactor chamber. The bioreactor was then tested by using different polymeric porous scaffolds cultured with mesenchymal cells up to two weeks. Such bioreactor may be in fact adopted as a sort of articular simulator for promoting and standardizing the new tissue formation in vitro, preconditioning cell fate through the application of proper artificial stimuli. Moreover, they can be valid tools to investigate physiological processes and novel therapeutic approaches avoiding controversial animal models.


A. Marrella, V. Alberi, S. Scaglione (2018): “Design and development of a 3D fluidic bioreactor platform for a combined mechanical/perfusing stimulation of articular substitutes”. Orthopaedic Proceedings