Single-cell hydrogel encapsulation for enhanced survival of human marrow stromal cells

Biomaterials. 2009 Oct;30(29):5445-55. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.06.035.


Inadequate extracellular matrix cues and subsequent apoptotic cell death are among crucial factors currently limiting cell viability and organ retention in cell-based therapeutic strategies for vascular regeneration. Here we describe the use of a single-cell hydrogel capsule to provide enhanced cell survival of adherent cells in transient suspension culture. Human marrow stromal cells (hMSCs) were singularly encapsulated in agarose capsules containing the immobilized matrix molecules, fibronectin and fibrinogen to ameliorate cell-matrix survival signals. MSCs in the enriched capsules demonstrated increased viability, greater metabolic activity and enhanced cell-cytoskeletal patterning. Increased cell viability resulted from the re-induction of cell-matrix interactions likely via integrin clustering and subsequent activation of the extracellular signal regulated MAPK (ERK)/mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade. Proof of principle in-vivo studies, investigating autologous MSC delivery into Fisher 344 rat hindlimb, depicted a significant increase in the number of engrafted cells using the single-cell encapsulation system. Incorporation of immobilized adhesion molecules compensates, at least in part, for the missing cell-matrix cues, thereby attenuating the initial anoikis stimuli and providing protection from subsequent apoptosis. Thus, this single-cell encapsulation strategy may markedly enhance therapeutic cell survival in targeted tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Sepharose / chemistry*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Hydrogels
  • Sepharose