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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 5258196, 8 pages
Research Article

Towards a Biohybrid Lung: Endothelial Cells Promote Oxygen Transfer through Gas Permeable Membranes

1Department of Biohybrid & Medical Textiles (BioTex), AME-Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering, ITA-Institut für Textiltechnik, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 20, 52074 Aachen, Germany
2AMIBM-Maastricht University, Urmonderbaan 22, 6167 RD Geleen, Netherlands
3Department of Medicine, University of Vermont, College of Medicine, Burlington, VT, USA
4Department of Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE), Institute of Applied Medical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 20, 52074 Aachen, Germany
5DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, Forckenbeckstraße 50, 52056 Aachen, Germany
6Institute of Applied Medical Engineering (AME), Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 20, 52074 Aachen, Germany
7Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Pneumology, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Stefan Jockenhoevel; ed.nehcaa-htwr.aih@leveohnekcoj

Received 31 March 2017; Accepted 24 May 2017; Published 23 August 2017

Academic Editor: Jeroen Rouwkema

Copyright © 2017 Sarah Menzel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In patients with respiratory failure, extracorporeal lung support can ensure the vital gas exchange via gas permeable membranes but its application is restricted by limited long-term stability and hemocompatibility of the gas permeable membranes, which are in contact with the blood. Endothelial cells lining these membranes promise physiological hemocompatibility and should enable prolonged application. However, the endothelial cells increase the diffusion barrier of the blood-gas interface and thus affect gas transfer. In this study, we evaluated how the endothelial cells affect the gas exchange to optimize performance while maintaining an integral cell layer. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were seeded on gas permeable cell culture membranes and cultivated in a custom-made bioreactor. Oxygen transfer rates of blank and endothelialized membranes in endothelial culture medium were determined. Cell morphology was assessed by microscopy and immunohistochemistry. Both setups provided oxygenation of the test fluid featuring small standard deviations of the measurements. Throughout the measuring range, the endothelial cells seem to promote gas transfer to a certain extent exceeding the blank membranes gas transfer performance by up to 120%. Although the underlying principles hereof still need to be clarified, the results represent a significant step towards the development of a biohybrid lung.