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Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to understand murine embryonic stem cell aggregate size and pluripotency distributions in stirred suspension bioreactors

Borys, Breanna S., Le, An, Roberts, Erin L., Dang, Tiffany, Rohani, Leili, Hsu, Charlie Yu-Ming, Wyma, Alexander A., Rancourt, Derrick E., Gates, Ian D., Kallos, Michael S.
Journal of biotechnology 2019 v.304 pp. 16-27
agitation, bioreactors, cell aggregates, cell viability, embryonic stem cells, hydrodynamics, mice, models
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling can be applied to understand hydrodynamics in stirred suspension bioreactors, which can in turn affect cell viability, proliferation, pluripotency and differentiation. In this study, we developed a CFD model to determine the effects of average shear rates and turbulent eddies on the formation and growth of murine embryonic stem cell aggregates. We found a correlation between average eddy size and aggregate size, which depended on bioreactor agitation rates. By relating these computational and biological variables, CFD modeling can predict optimal agitation rates to grow embryonic stem cell aggregates in stirred suspension bioreactors. To examine the effect of hydrodynamics on pluripotency, mESCs cultured in bioreactors under various agitation rates were tested for SSEA-1, Sox-2, and Nanog expression. Cells maintained a minimum of 95% positive expression with no change in the intensity distribution pattern between the different bioreactor conditions. This indicates that the average level of pluripotency marker expression is independent of changes in the hydrodynamic profile and resulting aggregate size distribution. The findings here can be further extended to other cell types that grow as aggregates in stirred suspension bioreactors and offer important insights necessary to realize cell therapies.