Miami University

Instrumentation Laboratory Project Page

Project: Hydrostatic Pressure Chamber

Department: Chemical, Paper, and Biomedical Engineering

Primary Investigator: Dr. Jessica Sparks

Purpose: Understanding the biomechanical regulation of liver regeneration could lead to the development of new treatment strategies for individuals with chronic liver disease. The purpose of the project is to investigate the role of mechanical stresses in directing liver progenitor cell fate.  Liver progenitor cells can either mature into hepatocytes (liver cells) or cholangiocytes (bile duct cells). The goal is to characterize the effects of hydrostatic pressure on liver progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation. To do this, we needed a pressure-controlled cell culture environment. The hydrostatic pressure system has three chambers which each hold a six-well cell culture plate and can be disconnected separately to allow for time points to be taken during experiments. In order to simulate in vivo conditions, the chambers are stored inside an incubator set at body temperature, and the system regulates the carbon dioxide concentration of the air flow to 5%. The air pump, carbon dioxide sensor, and pressure control unit are placed next to the incubator and are easily connected to a computer with three USB cables. The IL also designed a LabView computer program which controls the valves within the system, monitors the pressure and carbon dioxide levels, and records this data during experiments.

Hydrostatic Pressure Chamber (all Cells)
Chamber (one) - top view Chamber (front view) Chamber (all) - side view CO2 Sensor & Box Connected CO2 System Control Box (Front)
Control Box (Open) Control Box (Back) Control Box (Side) Screen shot about software (LabVIEW) Screenshot of Main Software Page (LabVIEW)

IL Comment: Dr. Sparks approached the I\L with the task of designing and fabricating a 3 chamber system that would control the pressure in the chambers at a very low level (0 - 0.58 PSI or 0 - 30 mmHg). The electronics, chambers, and software were developed and fabricated by the I\L to accommodate the users' requests while also providing the ability for potential upgrades in the future (for example, flow measurement - if needed). The system software was developed using NI LabVIEW to provide an easy to use instrumentation interface for Dr. Sparks and the student's in her lab.

After the system was being used in Dr. Sparks' lab, she came back to the I\L to have a 5% (50 ppm) CO2 concentration system added onto the existing instrument. The addition of more electronics and software changes were completed by the I\L to meet this request.

There are commercial systems available to do this type of control at such low pressures for around $40,000 (minimum); however, none of them incorporated the CO2 introduction within the same instrument, as this system does now. During system testing, the instrument was able to control the pressure within 0.2 mmHg of the desired pressure while maintaining the CO2 level within 0.2 % of the desired concentration.

Cost to researcher: $2946.10

Return to Project Page