Predicting cell viability within tissue scaffolds under equiaxial strain: multi-scale finite element model of collagen-cardiomyocytes constructs.
One of the major challenges in scaffold guided regenerative therapies is identifying the essential cues such as mechanical forces that induce cellular responses to form functional tissue. Developing multi-scale modelling methods would facilitate in predicting responses of encapsulated cells for controlling and maintaining the cell phenotype in an engineered tissue construct, when mechanical loads are applied. The objective of this study is to develop a 3D multi-scale numerical model for analyzing the stresses and deformations of the cell when the tissue construct is subjected to macro-scale mechanical loads and to predict load-induced cell damage. Specifically, this methodology characterizes the macro-scale structural behavior of the scaffold, and quantifies 3D stresses and deformations of the cells at the micro-scale and at a cellular level, wherein individual cell components are incorporated. Assuming that cells have inherent ability to sustain a critical load without damage, a damage criterion is established and a stochastic simulation is employed to predict the percentage cell viability within the tissue constructs. Bio-printed cell-alginate tissue constructs were tested with 1%, 5% and 10% compression strain applied and the cell viability were characterized experimentally as 23.2+/-16.8%, 9.0+/-5.4% and 4.6+/-2.1%. Using the developed method, the corresponding micro-environments of the cells were analyzed, the mean critical compressive strain was determined as 0.5%, and the cell viability was predicted as 26.6+/-7.0, 13.3+/-4.5, and 10.1+/-2.8. The predicted results capture the trend of the damage observed from the experimental study.