Effect of cross-linking on the physicochemical and in vitro properties of pullulan/dextran microbeads

Soraya Lanouar, Rachida Aid-Launais, Ana Oliveira, Laurent Bidault, Brigitte Closs, Marie Noëlle Labour, Didier Letourneur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogels are very promising for tissue engineering as they provide scaffolds and a suitable microenvironment to control cell behavior and tissue regeneration. We used a patented method to obtain beads of pullulan/dextran cross-linked with sodium trimetaphosphate (STMP), that were already described for in vivo bone repair. The aim of this study was to provide a comparative analysis of microbeads made of polysaccharides prepared using three different STMP feeding ratio of 1.5, 2.25 or 3 % w/w. The morphology, swelling and biodegradability of these structures were assessed. Mesenchymal stem cells were also seeded to evaluate the cell organization onto the beads. We found that the amount of phosphorus resulting from the cross-linking was proportional to the introduced STMP concentration. An increase of cross-linking decreased the in vitro enzymatic degradability, and also decreased the swelling in PBS or water. The microstructures observed by SEM and confocal microscopy indicated that homogeneous spherical microbeads were obtained, except for the lower cross-linking ratio where the shapes were altered. Beads hydrated in PBS exhibited a mean diameter ranging from 400 to 550 µm with the decrease of STMP ratio. Cells adhered to the surface of microbeads even in the absence of protein coating. Cell viability studies revealed an increase in cell numbers over two weeks for the highest cross-linked beads, whereas the two lowest STMP concentrations induced a decrease of cell viability. Overall, this study demonstrated that pullulan/dextran hydrogels can be designed as microbeads with adjustable physicochemical and biological properties to fulfill requirements for tissue engineering approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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