Measuring the density and viscosity of culture media for optimized computational fluid dynamics analysis of in vitro devices
Culture medium is frequently modelled as water in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of in vitro culture systems involving flow, such as bioreactors and organ-on-chips. However, culture medium can be expected to have different properties to water due to its higher solute content. Furthermore, cellular activities such as metabolism and secretion of ECM proteins alter the composition of culture medium and therefore its properties during culture. As these properties directly determine the
... ectly determine the hydromechanical stimuli exerted on cells in vitro, these, along with any changes during culture must be known for CFD model accuracy and meaningful interpretation of cellular responses. In this study, the density and dynamic viscosity of DMEM and RPMI-1640 media supplemented with typical concentrations of foetal bovine serum (0, 5, 10 and 20% v/v) were measured to serve as a reference for computational design analysis. Changes in these properties during culture was investigated with H460 and HN6 cell lines. The density and dynamic viscosity of the media increased proportional to the % volume of added foetal bovine serum (FBS). Importantly, the viscosity of 5% FBS-supplemented RPMI-1640 was shown to increase significantly after 3 days of culture of NCI-H460 and HN6 cell lines, with distinct differences between magnitude of change for each cell line. Finally, measured values were applied in CFD analysis of a simple microfluidic device, which demonstrated clear differences in maximum wall shear stress and pressure between fluid models. Overall, these results highlight the importance of characterizing model-specific properties for CFD design analysis of cell culture systems.