Microbubbles as biocompatible porogens for hydrogel scaffolds

Eric G. Lima, Krista M. Durney, Shashank R. Sirsi, Adam B. Nover, Gerard A. Ateshian, Mark A. Borden, Clark T. Hung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In this study, we explored the application of lipid-shelled, gas-filled microbubbles as a method for creating on-demand microporous hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering. The technique allowed for homogenous distribution of cells and micropores within the scaffold, increasing the absorption coefficient of large solutes (70 kDa dextran) over controls in a concentration-dependent manner. The stability of the gas phase of the microbubbles depended on several factors, including the initial size distribution of the microbubble suspension, as well as the temperature and pressure during culture. Application of pressure cycles provided controlled release of the gas phase to generate fluid-filled micropores with remnant lipid. The resulting microporous agarose scaffolds were biocompatible, leading to a twofold increase in engineered cartilage properties (EY = 492 ± 42 kPa for the bubble group vs. 249 ± 49 kPa for the bubble-free control group) over a 42-day culture period. Our results suggest that microbubbles offer a simple and robust method of modulating mass transfer in cell-seeded hydrogels through mild pressurization, and the methodology may be expanded in the future to include focused ultrasound for improved spatio-temporal control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4334-4341
Number of pages8
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Cartilage tissue engineering
  • Cell encapsulation
  • Mechanical properties
  • Microbubbles
  • Porosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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