The goal of tissue engineering is to use substitutes to repair and restore organ function. Bioreactors are an indispensable tool for monitoring and controlling the unique environment for engineered constructs to grow. However, in order to determine the biochemical properties of engineered constructs, samples need to be destroyed. In this study, we developed a novel technique to nondestructively online-characterize the water content and fixed charge density of cartilaginous tissues. A new technique was developed to determine the tissue mechano-electrochemical properties nondestructively. Bovine knee articular cartilage and lumbar annulus fibrosus were used in this study to demonstrate that this technique could be used on different types of tissue. The results show that our newly developed method is capable of precisely predicting the water volume fraction (less than 3% disparity) and fixed charge density (less than 16.7% disparity) within cartilaginous tissues. This novel technique will help to design a new generation of bioreactors which are able to actively determine the essential properties of the engineered constructs, as well as regulate the local environment to achieve the optimal conditions for cultivating constructs.

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