Tissue engineers have long sought access to an autonomous, imaging-compatible tissue incubation system that, with minimum operator handling, can provide real-time visualization and quantification of cells, tissue constructs, and organs. This type of screening system, capable of operating noninvasively to validate tissue, can overcome current limitations like temperature shock, unsustainable cellular environments, sample contamination, and handling/stress. However, this type of system has been a major challenge, until now. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and characterization of an innovative, autonomous incubation system that is compatible with a 9.4 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Termed the e-incubator (patent pending; application number: 13/953,984), this microcontroller-based system is integrated into an MRI scanner and noninvasively screens cells and tissue cultures in an environment where temperature, pH, and media/gas handling are regulated. The 4-week study discussed herein details the continuous operation of the e-incubator for a tissue-engineered osteogenic construct, validated by LIVE/DEAD® cell assays and histology. The evolving MR quantitative parameters of the osteogenic construct were used as biomarkers for bone tissue engineering and to further validate the quality of the product noninvasively before harvesting. Importantly, the e-incubator reliably facilitates culturing cells and tissue constructs to create engineered tissues and/or investigate disease therapies.
- Bone tissue engineering microcontroller
- Magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering