Enhancing Mass Transfer of Nutraceuticals to Inflamed Cartilage Cells through Perfusion

Primary Author: Haneen Abusharkh

Faculty Sponsor: Bernard Van Wie


Primary College/Unit: Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

Category: Engineering and Environmental Science

Campus: Pullman



Articular cartilage is a connective tissue that lacks blood vessels or sensory neurons. The lack of vascularity presents cartilage with diffusion-limited nutrient and oxygen supply and minimal intrinsic ability to regenerate after injury, leading to Osteoarthritis (OA). The aneural nature of cartilage makes injury difficult to diagnose due to lack of pain and therefore OA intervention has a tendency to be delayed. OA is the most common joint disease in the U.S. and was traditionally defined solely as the degradation of cartilage and was not considered an inflammatory disease. However, several recent studies have proven the presence of inflammatory markers, including interleukins, in the serum of OA joints. These findings have transformed how researches define and develop treatments for OA.

Nutraceuticals are food components that have medicinal benefits in addition to their nutritional value. They reduce inflammation by blocking the expression of interleukin-1 and scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals by their anti-oxidative characteristics.

In this study, inflammation was induced in bovine cartilage cells by the addition of interleukin-1β. Then, cells were cultured in two groups, a static micromass, and a perfusion bioreactor group. Both groups were supplied with a nutraceutical containing growth medium. We hypothesized that perfusion enhances the mass transfer of nutraceuticals to the grown cartilage tissue and reverses the inflammatory symptoms. Our results suggest that inflammation was reduced in the bioreactor samples, reflected by higher production of proteins indicative of healthy cartilage, collagen, and glycosaminoglycan, by more than 16-fold in comparison to static micromass cultures.