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Review

Hydrodynamic modulation of pluripotent stem cells

Krista M Fridley1, Melissa A Kinney1 and Todd C McDevitt12*

Author Affiliations

1 The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, 313 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA

2 The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, 315 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2012, 3:45  doi:10.1186/scrt136

Published: 20 November 2012

Abstract

Controlled expansion and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) using reproducible, high-throughput methods could accelerate stem cell research for clinical therapies. Hydrodynamic culture systems for PSCs are increasingly being used for high-throughput studies and scale-up purposes; however, hydrodynamic cultures expose PSCs to complex physical and chemical environments that include spatially and temporally modulated fluid shear stresses and heterogeneous mass transport. Furthermore, the effects of fluid flow on PSCs cannot easily be attributed to any single environmental parameter since the cellular processes regulating self-renewal and differentiation are interconnected and the complex physical and chemical parameters associated with fluid flow are thus difficult to independently isolate. Regardless of the challenges posed by characterizing fluid dynamic properties, hydrodynamic culture systems offer several advantages over traditional static culture, including increased mass transfer and reduced cell handling. This article discusses the challenges and opportunities of hydrodynamic culture environments for the expansion and differentiation of PSCs in microfluidic systems and larger-volume suspension bioreactors. Ultimately, an improved understanding of the effects of hydrodynamics on the self-renewal and differentiation of PSCs could yield improved bioprocessing technologies to attain scalable PSC culture strategies that will probably be requisite for the development of therapeutic and diagnostic applications.