Multi-unit sustained vibration loading platform for biological tissues: design, validation and experimentation

Category: Publication

Authors: Geoffrey T Desmoulin, William S Enns-Bray, Carol R Hewitt, Christopher J Hunter

Publication: Journal of Biomechanics

The relationships between mechanical inputs and resulting biological tissue structure, composition, and metabolism are critical to detailing the nuances of tissue mechanobiology in both healthy and injured tissues. Developing a model system to test the mechanobiology of tissues ex-vivo is a complex task, as controlling chemical and mechanical boundary layers in-vitro are difficult to replicate. A novel multi-unit vibration loading platform for intervertebral discs was designed and validated with both independent electronic data and experimental loading of 6 bovine intervertebral discs (IVDs) and an equal number of unloaded controls. Sustained vibration was applied using closed-loop positional control of pushrods within four independent bioreactors with circulating phosphate buffered saline. The bioreactors were designed to be modular with removable components allowing for easy cleaning and replacement. The loading regime was chosen to maximize target mRNA expression as reported in previous research. Aggrecan, decorin, and versican mRNA all reported statistically significant increases above control levels. Biglycan, collagen type I and II showed no significant difference from the control group. Further study is required to determine the resulting effect of increased mRNA expressions on long-term disc health. However these results indicate that this research is past the proof of concept stage, supporting future studies of mechanobiology utilizing this new device. The next stage in developing this novel loading platform should consider modifying the tissue grips to explore the effects of different directional loading on different gene expression, and also loading different types of tissues

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