A specialized bioreactor is used to grow mineralizing, collagenous tissue up to 150 μm thick from an inoculum of isolated murine (mouse calvaria MC3T3-E1, American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) CRL-2593) or human (hFOB 1.19 ATCC CRL-11372) fetal osteoblasts over uninterrupted culture periods longer than 120 days (4 months). Proliferation and phenotypic progression of an osteogenic-cell monolayer into a tissue consisting of 6 or more cell layers of mature osteoblasts in the bioreactor was compared with cell performance in conventional tissue-culture polystyrene (TCPS) controls. Cells in the bioreactor basically matched results obtained in TCPS over a 15-day culture interval, but loss of insoluble extracellular matrix and an approximate doubling of apoptosis rates in TCPS after 30 days indicated that progressive instability of cultures maintained in TCPS with periodic refeeding but without subculture. In contrast, stable cultures were maintained in the bioreactor for more than 120 days, suggesting that extended-term tissue maintenance is feasible with little or no special technique. Transmission electron microscopy ultramorphology of tissue derived from hFOB 1.19 recovered from the bioreactor after only 15 days of culture showed evidence of osteocytic-like processes and gap junctions between cells like those observed in vivo, in addition to elaboration of the usual osteoblastic markers such as alkaline phosphatase activity and mineralization (alizarin red). Thus, the bioreactor design based on the principle of simultaneous growth and dialysis was shown to create an extraordinarily stable peri-cellular environment that better simulates the in vivo condition than conventional tissue culture. The bioreactor shows promise as a tool for the in vitro study of osteogenesis and osteopathology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology