Gelatin methacrylate microspheres for controlled growth factor release

Acta Biomater. 2015 Feb;13:101-10. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2014.11.028. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Gelatin has been commonly used as a delivery vehicle for various biomolecules for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications due to its simple fabrication methods, inherent electrostatic binding properties, and proteolytic degradability. Compared to traditional chemical cross-linking methods, such as the use of glutaraldehyde (GA), methacrylate modification of gelatin offers an alternative method to better control the extent of hydrogel cross-linking. Here we examined the physical properties and growth factor delivery of gelatin methacrylate (GMA) microparticles (MPs) formulated with a wide range of different cross-linking densities (15-90%). Less methacrylated MPs had decreased elastic moduli and larger mesh sizes compared to GA MPs, with increasing methacrylation correlating to greater moduli and smaller mesh sizes. As expected, an inverse correlation between microparticle cross-linking density and degradation was observed, with the lowest cross-linked GMA MPs degrading at the fastest rate, comparable to GA MPs. Interestingly, GMA MPs at lower cross-linking densities could be loaded with up to a 10-fold higher relative amount of growth factor than conventional GA cross-linked MPs, despite the GA MPs having an order of magnitude greater gelatin content. Moreover, a reduced GMA cross-linking density resulted in more complete release of bone morphogenic protein 4 and basic fibroblast growth factor and accelerated release rate with collagenase treatment. These studies demonstrate that GMA MPs provide a more flexible platform for growth factor delivery by enhancing the relative binding capacity and permitting proteolytic degradation tunability, thereby offering a more potent controlled release system for growth factor delivery.

Keywords: Gelatin; Growth factor delivery; Methacrylate; Microsphere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / chemistry
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / chemistry*
  • Gelatin / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Methacrylates / chemistry*
  • Microspheres*


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Hydrogels
  • Methacrylates
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • methacrylic acid
  • Gelatin