Alginate Microencapsulation Technology for the Percutaneous Delivery of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells


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Abstract

Background:Autologous fat is the ideal soft-tissue filler; however, its widespread application is limited because of variable clinical results and poor survival. Engineered fillers have the potential to maximize survival. Alginate is a hydrogel copolymer that can be engineered into spheres of <200 μm, thus facilitating mass transfer, allowing for subcutaneous injection, and protecting cells from shearing forces.Methods:Alginate powder was dissolved in saline, and adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) were encapsulated (1 million cells/mL) in alginate using an electrostatic bead generator. To assess effects of injection on cell viability, microspheres containing ADSCs were separated into 2 groups: the control group was decanted into culture wells and the injection group was mixed with basal media and injected through a 21-gauge needle into culture wells. Microbeads were cultured for 3 weeks, and cell number and viability were measured weekly using electron and confocal microscopy. To assess effects of percutaneous injection in vivo, twenty-four male nude mice were randomly separated into 2 groups and injected with either empty microcapsules or ADSC-laden microcapsules. Mice were harvested at 1 and 3 months, and the implants were examined microscopically to assess bead and cell viability.Results:A flow rate of 5 mL/h and an electrostatic potential of 7 kV produced viable ADSC-laden microbeads of <200 μm. There were no differences in bead morphology and ADSC viability between microcapsules placed versus injected into tissue culture plates for up to 3 weeks. Microspheres implanted in a nude mouse model show durability up to 3 months with a host response around each individual sphere. ADSCs remained viable and showed signs of mitosis.Conclusions:ADSCs can be readily cultured, encapsulated, and injected in alginate microspheres. Stem cells suspended in alginate microspheres survive in vivo and are seen to replicate in vitro.

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