Using a high aspect ratio vessel (HARV), this study investigated the formation of 3-D rat marrow stromal cell culture on microcarriers and the expression of bone-related biochemical markers under conditions of simulated microgravity. In addition, it calculated the shear stresses imparted on the surface of microcarriers of different densities by the medium fluid in an HARV. Secondary rat marrow stromal cells were cultured on two types of microcarriers, Cytodex-3 beads and modified bioactive glass particles. Examination of cellular morphology by scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of three-dimensional multicellular aggregates consisting of multiple cell-covered Cytodex-3 microcarriers bridged together. Mineralization was observed in the aggregates. Spherical cell-bead aggregates were observed in an HARV, while cell-bead assemblies were mostly loosely packed in a chainlike or branched structure in a cell bag. The expressions of alkaline phosphatase activity, collagen type I, and osteopontin were shown via the use of histochemical staining, immunolabeling, and confocal scanning electron microscopy. Using a numerical approach, it was found that at a given rotational speed and for a given culture medium, a larger density difference between the microcarrier and the culture medium (e.g., a modified bioactive glass particle) imparted a higher maximum shear stress on the microcarrier.
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