A numerical model of heterogeneous surface strains in polymer scaffolds.

Research paper by Elbert E Baas, Jan Herman JH Kuiper

Indexed on: 21 Mar '08Published on: 21 Mar '08Published in: Journal of biomechanics


In vitro bone tissue growth inside porous scaffolds can be enhanced by macroscopic cyclic compression of the construct, but the heterogeneous strain generated inside the construct must be investigated to determine appropriate levels of compression. For this purpose a linear micro-finite element (muFE) technique based on micro-computed tomography (muCT) was verified for the calculation of local displacements inside polymer scaffolds, from which local strains may be estimated. Local displacements in the axial direction at the surface of microstructures inside the scaffold in 60 locations were calculated with the muFE model, based on compression simulation of a muCT reconstruction of the scaffold. These displacements were compared with accurately measured displacements in the axial direction in the same polymer scaffold at the same 60 locations, using a micro-compression chamber and muCT reconstructions of the scaffold under two fixed levels of compression (5% and 0%). The correlation between the calculated and the measured displacements, after correction for the dependence of the axial displacement on the axial position, was r=0.786 (r2=0.617). From this we conclude that the linear muFE model is suitable to estimate local surface strains inside polymer scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. This technique can not only be used to determine appropriate parameters such as the level of macroscopic compression in experimental design, but also to investigate the cellular response to local surface strains generated inside three-dimensional scaffolds.