X-ray phase contrast imaging of calcified tissue and biomaterial structure in bioreactor engineered tissues

Alyssa A. Appel, Jeffery C. Larson, Alfred B. Garson, Huifeng Guan, Zhong Zhong, Bao Ngoc B. Nguyen, John P. Fisher, Mark A. Anastasio, Eric M. Brey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissues engineered in bioreactor systems have been used clinically to replace damaged tissues and organs. In addition, these systems are under continued development for many tissue engineering applications. The ability to quantitatively assess material structure and tissue formation is critical for evaluating bioreactor efficacy and for preimplantation assessment of tissue quality. Techniques that allow for the nondestructive and longitudinal monitoring of large engineered tissues within the bioreactor systems will be essential for the translation of these strategies to viable clinical therapies. X-ray Phase Contrast (XPC) imaging techniques have shown tremendous promise for a number of biomedical applications owing to their ability to provide image contrast based on multiple X-ray properties, including absorption, refraction, and scatter. In this research, mesenchymal stem cell-seeded alginate hydrogels were prepared and cultured under osteogenic conditions in a perfusion bioreactor. The constructs were imaged at various time points using XPC microcomputed tomography (μCT). Imaging was performed with systems using both synchrotron- and tube-based X-ray sources. XPC μCT allowed for simultaneous three-dimensional (3D) quantification of hydrogel size and mineralization, as well as spatial information on hydrogel structure and mineralization. Samples were processed for histological evaluation and XPC showed similar features to histology and quantitative analysis consistent with the histomorphometry. These results provide evidence of the significant potential of techniques based on XPC for noninvasive 3D imaging engineered tissues grown in bioreactors. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2015;112: 612-620.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-620
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Alginate microbeads
  • Analyzer-based imaging
  • Bioreactor
  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Synchrotron
  • X-ray phase contrast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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