Numerical Model of Fluid Flow and Oxygen Transport in a Radial-Flow Microchannel Containing Hepatocytes

[+] Author and Article Information
G. A. Ledezma, A. Folch, S. N. Bhatia, U. J. Balis, M. L. Yarmush, M. Toner

Center for Engineering in Medicine; Surgical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital; Shriners Burns Hospital; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114

J Biomech Eng 121(1), 58-64 (Feb 01, 1999) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2798043 History: Received May 28, 1998; Revised October 01, 1998; Online October 30, 2007


The incorporation of monolayers of cultured hepatocytes into an extracorporeal perfusion system has become a promising approach for the development of a temporary bioartificial liver (BAL) support system. In this paper we present a numerical investigation of the oxygen tension, shear stress, and pressure drop in a bioreactor for a BAL composed of plasma-perfused chambers containing monolayers of porcine hepatocytes. The chambers consist of microfabricated parallel disks with center-to-edge radial flow. The oxygen uptake rate (OUR), measured in vitro for porcine hepatocytes, was curve-fitted using Michaelis–Menten kinetics for simulation of the oxygen concentration profile. The effect of different parameters that may influence the oxygen transport inside the chambers, such as the plasma flow rate, the chamber height, the initial oxygen tension in the perfused plasma, the OUR, and Km was investigated. We found that both the plasma flow rate and the initial oxygen tension may have an important effect upon oxygen transport. Increasing the flow rate and/or the inlet oxygen tension resulted in improved oxygen transport to cells in the radial-flow microchannels, and allowed significantly greater diameter reactor without oxygen limitation to the hepatocytes. In the range investigated in this paper (10 μm < H < 100 μm), and for a constant plasma flow rate, the chamber height, H, had a negligible effect on the oxygen transport to hepatocytes. On the contrary, it strongly affected the mechanical stress on the cells that is also crucial for the successful design of the BAL reactors. A twofold decrease in chamber height from 50 to 25 μm produced approximately a fivefold increase in maximal shear stress at the inlet of the reactor from 2 to 10 dyn/cm2 . Further decrease in chamber height resulted in shear stress values that are physiologically unrealistic. Therefore, the channel height needs to be carefully chosen in a BAL design to avoid deleterious hydrodynamic effects on hepatocytes.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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