Design of protein-based liquefied cell-laden capsules with bioinspired adhesion for tissue engineering

Maria C. Gomes*, Dora C. S. Costa, Cláudia S. Oliveira, João F. Mano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Platforms with liquid cores are extensively explored as cell delivery vehicles for cell-based therapies and tissue engineering. However, the recurrence of synthetic materials can impair its translation into the clinic. Inspired by the adhesive proteins secreted by mussels, liquefied capsule is developed using gelatin modified with hydroxypyridinones (Gel-HOPO), a catechol analogue with oxidant-resistant properties. The protein-based liquefied macrocapsule permitted the compartmentalization of living cells by an approachable and non-time-consuming methodology resorting to i) superhydrophobic surfaces as a processing platform of hydrogel beads, ii) gelation of gelatin at temperatures < 25 °C, iii) iron coordination of the hydroxypyridinone (HOPO) moieties at physiological pH, and iv) core liquefaction at 37 °C. With the design of a proteolytically degradable shell, the possibility of encapsulating human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hASC) with and without the presence of polycaprolactone microparticles (μPCL) is evaluated. Showing prevalence toward adhesion to the inner shell wall, hASC formed a monolayer evidencing the biocompatibility and adequate mechanical properties of these platforms for proliferation, diminishing the need for μPCL as a supporting substrate. This new protein-based liquefied platform can provide biofactories devices of both fundamental and practical importance for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine or in other biotechnology fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100782
JournalAdvanced healthcare materials
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D assembly
  • Cell encapsulation
  • Hydroxypyridinones
  • Superhydrophobic surfaces


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