Stem Cell-Derived Insulin-Producing Cells in 3D Engineered Tissue in a Perfusion Flow Bioreactor

Xiaotang Ma, Neha M. Jain, Pamela Hitscherich, Sahiti Seetamraju, Eun Jung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To circumvent the lack of donor pancreas, insulin-producing cells (IPCs) derived from pluripotent stem cells emerged as a viable cell source for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. While it has been shown that IPCs can be derived from pluripotent stem cells using various protocols, the long-term viability and functional stability of IPCs in vitro remains a challenge. Thus, the principles of three-dimensional (3D) tissue engineering and a perfusion flow bioreactor were used in this study to establish 3D microenvironment suitable for long-term in vitro culture of IPCs-derived from mouse embryonic stem cells. It was observed that in static 3D culture of IPCs, the viability decreased gradually with longer time in culture. However, when a low flow (0.02 mL/min) was continuously applied to 3D IPC containing tissues, enhanced survival and function of IPCs were demonstrated. IPCs cultured under low flow exhibited a significantly enhanced glucose responsiveness and upregulation of Ins1 compared to that of static culture. In summary, this study demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of 3D engineered tissue environment combined with perfusion flow in vitro for culturing stem cell-derived IPCs. This in vitro three-dimensional tissue system combined with the flow can be used to better understand the role of biophysical cues that facilitates improved function and maturation of stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells, which can ultimately advance the field of pancreatic tissue engineering as well as in diabetes treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1182-1191
Number of pages10
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • 3D engineered tissue
  • collagen
  • embryonic stem cells
  • flow bioreactor
  • insulin-producing cells


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