Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Macro and Microfluidic Flows for Skeletal Regenerative Medicine

Brandon D. Riehl, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jung Yul Lim, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Document Type Article

Riehl & Lim in MDPI Cells (2012) 1. Copyright © 2012, the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Open access, Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0.


Fluid flow has a great potential as a cell stimulatory tool for skeletal regenerative medicine, because fluid flow-induced bone cell mechanotransduction in vivo plays a critical role in maintaining healthy bone homeostasis. Applications of fluid flow for skeletal regenerative medicine are reviewed at macro and microscale. Macroflow in two dimensions (2D), in which flow velocity varies along the normal direction to the flow, has explored molecular mechanisms of bone forming cell mechanotransduction responsible for flow-regulated differentiation, mineralized matrix deposition, and stem cell osteogenesis. Though 2D flow set-ups are useful for mechanistic studies due to easiness in in situ and post-flow assays, engineering skeletal tissue constructs should involve three dimensional (3D) flows, e.g., flow through porous scaffolds. Skeletal tissue engineering using 3D flows has produced promising outcomes, but 3D flow conditions (e.g., shear stress vs. chemotransport) and scaffold characteristics should further be tailored. Ideally, data gained from 2D flows may be utilized to engineer improved 3D bone tissue constructs. Recent microfluidics approaches suggest a strong potential to mimic in vivo microscale interstitial flows in bone. Though there have been few microfluidics studies on bone cells, it was demonstrated that microfluidic platform can be used to conduct high throughput screening of bone cell mechanotransduction behavior under biomimicking flow conditions.