Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Sharan Ramaswamy

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Vinu Unnikrishnan

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Nikolaos Tsoukias

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jorge Riera

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Cheng-Xian Lin

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Biological engineering, Biomechanical engineering, Biomechanics and biotransport, Biotechnology, Other biomedical engineering and bioengineering

Date of Defense



Mechanical conditioning has been shown to promote tissue formation in a wide variety of tissue engineering efforts. However the underlying mechanisms by which external mechanical stimuli regulate cells and tissues are not known. This is particularly relevant in the area of heart valve tissue engineering (HVTE) owing to the intense hemodynamic environments that surround native valves. Some studies suggest that oscillatory shear stress (OSS) caused by steady flow and scaffold flexure play a critical role in engineered tissue formation derived from bone marrow derived stem cells (BMSCs). In addition, scaffold flexure may enhance nutrient (e.g. oxygen, glucose) transport. In this study, we computationally quantified the i) magnitude of fluid-induced shear stresses; ii) the extent of temporal fluid oscillations in the flow field using the oscillatory shear index (OSI) parameter, and iii) glucose and oxygen mass transport profiles. Noting that sample cyclic flexure induces a high degree of oscillatory shear stress (OSS), we incorporated moving boundary computational fluid dynamic simulations of samples housed within a bioreactor to consider the effects of: 1) no flow, no flexure (control group), 2) steady flow-alone, 3) cyclic flexure-alone and 4) combined steady flow and cyclic flexure environments. We also coupled a diffusion and convention mass transport equation to the simulated system. We found that the coexistence of both OSS and appreciable shear stress magnitudes, described by the newly introduced parameter OSI-t , explained the high levels of engineered collagen previously observed from combining cyclic flexure and steady flow states. On the other hand, each of these metrics on its own showed no association. This finding suggests that cyclic flexure and steady flow synergistically promote engineered heart valve tissue production via OSS, so long as the oscillations are accompanied by a critical magnitude of shear stress. In addition, our simulations showed that mass transport of glucose and oxygen is enhanced by sample movement at low sample porosities, but did not play a role in highly porous scaffolds. Preliminary in-house in vitro experiments showed that cell proliferation and phenotype is enhanced in OSI-t environments.





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