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The fast release of stem cells from alginate-fibrin microbeads in injectable scaffolds for bone tissue engineering

Zhou, Hongzhi, Xu, Hockin H.K.
Biomaterials 2011 v.32 no.30 pp. 7503-7513
alizarin, bone formation, collagen, encapsulation, genetic markers, humans, hydrocolloids, mineral content, minerals, stem cells, tissue engineering, tissue repair, umbilical cord
Stem cell-encapsulating hydrogel microbeads of several hundred microns in size suitable for injection, that could quickly degrade to release the cells, are currently unavailable. The objectives of this study were to: (1) develop oxidized alginate-fibrin microbeads encapsulating human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs); (2) investigate microbead degradation, cell release, and osteogenic differentiation of the released cells for the first time. Three types of microbeads were fabricated to encapsulate hUCMSCs: (1) Alginate microbeads; (2) oxidized alginate microbeads; (3) oxidized alginate-fibrin microbeads. Microbeads with sizes of about 100–500 μm were fabricated with 1 × 10⁶ hUCMSCs/mL of alginate. For the alginate group, there was little microbead degradation, with very few cells released at 21 d. For oxidized alginate, the microbeads started to slightly degrade at 14 d. In contrast, the oxidized alginate-fibrin microbeads started to degrade at 4 d and released the cells. At 7 d, the number of released cells greatly increased and showed a healthy polygonal morphology. At 21 d, the oxidized alginate-fibrin group had a live cell density that was 4-fold that of the oxidized alginate group, and 15-fold that of the alginate group. The released cells had osteodifferentiation, exhibiting highly elevated bone marker gene expressions of ALP, OC, collagen I, and Runx2. Alizarin staining confirmed the synthesis of bone minerals by hUCMSCs, with the mineral concentration at 21 d being 10-fold that at 7 d. In conclusion, fast-degradable alginate-fibrin microbeads with hUCMSC encapsulation were developed that could start to degrade and release the cells at 4 d. The released hUCMSCs had excellent proliferation, osteodifferentiation, and bone mineral synthesis. The alginate-fibrin microbeads are promising to deliver stem cells inside injectable scaffolds to promote tissue regeneration.