The key to understanding, harnessing, and manipulating natural biological processes for the benefit of tissue engineering lies in providing a controllable dynamic environment for tissue development in vitro while being able to track cell activity in real time. This work presents a multi-channel bioreactor specifically designed to enable on-line imaging of fluorescently labeled cells embedded in replicated 3D engineered constructs subjected to different flow conditions. The images are acquired in 3D using a standard upright confocal microscope and further analyzed and quantified by computer vision. The platform is used to characterize and quantify the pace and directionality of angiogenic processes induced by flow. The presented apparatus bears considerable potential to advance scientific research, from basic research pursuing the effect of flow versus static conditions on 3D scaffolds and cell types, to clinically oriented modeling in drug screening and cytotoxicity assays.
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