Microencapsulation and delivery of stem cells in biomaterials is a promising approach to repairing damaged tissue in a minimally invasive manner. An appropriate biomaterial niche can protect the embedded cells from the challenging environment in the host tissue, while also directing stem cell differentiation toward the desired lineage. In this study, adult human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were embedded in hydrogel microbeads consisting of chitosan and type I collagen using an emulsification process. Glyoxal and β-glycerophosphate were used as chemical and physical crosslinkers to initiate copolymerization of the matrix materials. The average size and size distribution of the microbeads could be varied by controlling the emulsification conditions. Spheroidal microbeads ranging in diameter from 82 ± 19 to 290 ± 78 μm were produced. Viability staining showed that MSC survived the encapsulation process (>90% viability) and spread inside the matrix over a period of 9 days in culture. Induced osteogenic differentiation using medium supplements showed that MSC increased gene expression of osterix and osteocalcin over time in culture, and also deposited calcium mineral. Bone sialoprotein and type I collagen gene expression were not affected. Delivery of microbeads through standard needles at practically relevant flow rates did not adversely affect cell viability, and microbeads could also be easily molded into prescribed geometries for delivery. Such protein-based microbeads may have utility in orthopedic tissue regeneration by allowing minimally invasive delivery of progenitor cells in microenvironments that are both protective and instructive.
Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel