Monday 17 October 2011
In general, the basic requirements of cells must be maintained in culture, which include oxygen, pH, humidity, temperature, nutrients and osmotic pressure maintenance.
Tissue engineered cultures also present additional problems in maintaining culture conditions.
In standard cell culture, diffusion is often the sole means of nutrient and metabolite transport. However, as a culture becomes larger and more complex, such as the case with engineered organs and whole tissues, other mechanisms must be employed to maintain the culture, such as the creation of capillary networks within the tissue.
Another issue with tissue culture is introducing the proper factors or stimuli required to induce functionality. In many cases, simple maintenance culture is not sufficient.
Growth factors, hormones, specific metabolites or nutrients, chemical and physical stimuli are sometimes required.
For example, certain cells respond to changes in oxygen tension as part of their normal development, such as chondrocytes, which must adapt to low oxygen conditions or hypoxia during skeletal development.
Others, such as endothelial cells, respond to shear stress from fluid flow, which is encountered in blood vessels. Mechanical stimuli, such as pressure pulses seem to be beneficial to all kind of cardiovascular tissue such as heart valves, blood vessels or pericardium.