Dynamic pressure transmission through agarose gels

D. B.F. Saris, N. Mukherjee, L. J. Berglund, F. M. Schultz, K. N. An, S. W. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In biomedical research, agarose gel is widely used in tissue culture systems because it permits growing cells and tissues in a three-dimensional suspension. This is especially important in the application of tissue engineering concepts to cartilage repair because it supports the cartilage phenotype. Mechanical loading, especially compression, plays a fundamental role in the development and repair of cartilage. It would be advantageous to develop a system where cells and tissues could be subjected to compression so that their responses can be studied. There is currently no information on the pressure response of agarose gel when pressure is applied to the gas phase of a culture system. To understand the transmission of pressure through the gel, we set up an apparatus that would mimic an agarose suspension tissue culture system. This consisted of a sealed metal cylinder containing air as well as a layer of agarose submerged in culture medium. Pressure responses were recorded in the air, fluid, gel center, and gel periphery using various frequencies, pressures, gel volumes, and viscosities. Regression analyses show an almost perfect linear relation between gas and gel pressures (r2 = 0.99987, p < 0.0001, f(x) = 0.9982 x - 0.0286). The pressure transmission was complete and immediate, throughout the range of the applied pressures, frequencies, volumes, and viscosities tested. Applying dynamic pressure to the gas phase results in reproducible pressure in the agarose and, therefore, validates the use of agarose tissue culture systems in studies employing dynamic pressurization in cartilage tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-537
Number of pages7
JournalTissue Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology


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