The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of directional fluid flow on periosteal chondrogenesis. Periosteal explants were harvested from 2-month-old rabbits and sutured onto poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) scaffolds with the cambium layer facing away from the scaffolds. The periosteum/PCL composites were cultured in suspension in spinner flask bioreactors and exposed to various fluid flow velocities: 0, 20, 60, and 150 rpm for 4 h each day for 6 weeks. The application of fluid flow significantly increased percent cartilage yield in periosteal explants from 17% in the static controls to 65-75% under fluid flow (there was no significant difference between 20, 60, or 150 rpm). The size of the neocartilage was also significantly greater in explants exposed to fluid flow compared with static culture. The development of zonal organization within the engineered cartilage was observed predominantly in the tissue exposed to flow conditions. The Young's modulus of the engineered cartilage exposed to 60 rpm was significantly greater than the samples exposed to 150 and 20 rpm. These results demonstrate that application of directional fluid flow to periosteal explants secured onto PCL scaffolds enhances cell proliferation, chondrogenic differentiation, and cell organization and alters the biomechanical properties of the engineered cartilage.
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