Formation of spheroidal aggregates of hepatocytes on biodegradable polymers under continuous-flow bioreactor conditions

J. M. Pollok, D. Kluth, R. A. Cusick, H. Lee, H. Utsunomiya, P. X. Ma, R. Langer, C. E. Broelsch, J. P. Vacanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Our laboratory has investigated heterotopic hepatocyte transplantation on biodegradable polymer matrices as an experimental treatment for end-stage liver disease. One of the limitations has been survival of sufficient cell mass after transplantation. We hypothesize that in vitro conditioning of cells within polymer matrices prior to implantation may increase hepatocyte survival and function. In this preliminary study we investigated the effect of continuous flow on hepatocytes and sinusoidal endothelial cells on poly- L-lactic acid (PLLA) discs in vitro. Highly porous PLLA discs were manufactured measuring 18 mm diameter by 1 mm thickness using previously described techniques. Hepatocytes were isolated from adult, male Lewis rats (200-300 g) using a two-step collagenase digestion. Sinusoidal endothelial cells were isolated using a two-step collagenase digestion, differential sedimentation, Percoll gradient centrifugation, and selective adherence. PLLA discs were seeded with hepatocytes alone or with co-cultures of hepatocytes and sinusoidal endothelial cells. Seeded discs were then secured within a flow bioreactor chamber and exposed to continuous flow of culture media at a rate of 20 ml/minute through the chamber. Seeded discs placed in static culture conditions served as controls. Specimens seeded with only hepatocytes were harvested at 24 hours, 48 hours, and 168 hours after seeding. Co- culture specimens were harvested after 168 hours. Specimens were viewed under phase-contrast microscopy and then formalin-fixed and prepared for histologic sectioning. Sections were stained with Hematoxylin and Eosin and then analyzed with light microscopy. Hepatocytes under flow conditions formed spheroidal aggregates of cells of 50 to 200 μm in diameter by 24 hours in culture. Hepatocytes in static conditions showed decreased aggregation of cells and spheroid formation was absent. Co-cultured specimens under flow also showed spheroid formation with endothelial cells lining the outside of hepatocyte spheroids. Co-cultured specimens in static culture showed no spheroid formation and no organization between sinusoidal endothelial cells and hepatocytes. These results' suggest that continuous flow increases organization of hepatocytes cultured within biodegradable polymer matrices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-199
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Biodegradable polymer
  • Bioreactor
  • Cell transplantation
  • Hepatocyte
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Formation of spheroidal aggregates of hepatocytes on biodegradable polymers under continuous-flow bioreactor conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this