It has been shown that chondrocyte-seeded agarose constructs of large dimensions develop spatially inhomogeneous material properties with stiffer outer edges and a softer central core [1]. This axial (depth-dependent) inhomogeneity was observed for constructs with relatively large diameter (4mm) and thickness (2.3mm) and suggests nutrient diffusion limitations to the central region of the constructs. Our previous study also showed that by reducing the thickness of the agarose construct (to 1mm) more homogenous construct properties can be obtained as a result of the reduced diffusion distance [2]. In this study we hypothesized that more homogeneous constructs of better mechanical properties could be achieved by creating channels running through the depth of the thick constructs (2.3mm), thereby facilitating nutrient diffusion into the central region of the constructs.

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