Protein encapsulation via porous CaCO3 microparticles templating

Biomacromolecules. Sep-Oct 2004;5(5):1962-72. doi: 10.1021/bm049669e.


Porous microparticles of calcium carbonate with an average diameter of 4.75 microm were prepared and used for protein encapsulation in polymer-filled microcapsules by means of electrostatic layer-by-layer assembly (ELbL). Loading of macromolecules in porous CaCO3 particles is affected by their molecular weight due to diffusion-limited permeation inside the particles and also by the affinity to the carbonate surface. Adsorption of various proteins and dextran was examined as a function of pH and was found to be dependent both on the charge of the microparticles and macromolecules. The electrostatic effect was shown to govern this interaction. This paper discusses the factors which can influence the adsorption capacity of proteins. A new way of protein encapsulation in polyelectrolyte microcapsules is proposed exploiting the porous, biocompatible, and decomposable microparticles from CaCO3. It consists of protein adsorption in the pores of the microparticles followed by ELbL of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes and further core dissolution. This resulted in formation of polyelectrolyte-filled capsules with protein incorporated in interpenetrating polyelectrolyte network. The properties of CaCO3 microparticles and capsules prepared were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, microelectrophoresis, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Lactalbumin was encapsulated by means of the proposed technique yielding a content of 0.6 pg protein per microcapsule. Horseradish peroxidase saves 37% of activity after encapsulation. However, the thermostability of the enzyme was improved by encapsulation. The results demonstrate that porous CaCO3 microparticles can be applied as microtemplates for encapsulation of proteins into polyelectrolyte capsules at neutral pH as an optimal medium for a variety of bioactive material, which can also be encapsulated by the proposed method. Microcapsules filled with encapsulated material may find applications in the field of biotechnology, biochemistry, and medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry*
  • Drug Compounding / methods
  • Microspheres*
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Proteins
  • Calcium Carbonate