TitleA bioreactor with an electro-responsive elastomeric membrane for mimicking intestinal peristalsis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCei, D, Costa, J, Gori, G, Frediani, G, Domenici, C, Carpi, F, Ahluwalia, A
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics

This study describes an actuated bioreactor which mimics the pulsatile contractile motion of the intestinal barrier using electro-responsive elastomers as smart materials that undergo deformation upon electrical stimulation. The device consists of an annular dielectric elastomer actuator working as a radial artificial muscle able to rhythmically contract and relax a central cell culture well. The bioreactor maintained up to 4 h of actuation at a frequency of 0.15 Hz and a strain of 8%–10%, to those of the cyclic contraction and relaxation of the small intestine. In vitro tests demonstrated that the device was biocompatible and cell-adhesive for Caco-2 cells, which formed a confluent monolayer following 21 days of culture in the central well. In addition, cellular adhesion and cohesion were maintained after 4 h of continuous cyclic strain. These preliminary results encourage further investigations on the use of dielectric elastomer actuation as a versatile technology that might overcome the limitations of commercially available pneumatic driving systems to obtain bioreactors that can cyclically deform cell cultures in a biomimetic fashion.

Refereed DesignationRefereed