Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the ability to differentiate into any specialized somatic cell type, which makes them an attractive tool for a wide variety of scientific approaches, including regenerative medicine. However, their pluripotent state and their growth in compact colonies render them difficult to access and, therefore, restrict delivery of specific agents for cell manipulation. Thus, our investigation focus was set on the evaluation of the capability of layer-by-layer (LbL) designed microcarriers to serve as a potential drug delivery system to iPSCs, as they offer several appealing advantages. Most notably, these carriers allow for the transport of active agents in a protected environment and for a rather specific delivery through surface modifications. As we could show, charge and mode of LbL carrier application as well as the size of the iPSC colonies determine the interaction with and the uptake rate by iPSCs. None of the examined conditions had an influence on iPSC colony properties such as colony morphology and size or maintenance of pluripotent properties. An overall interaction rate of LbL carriers with iPSCs of up to 20% was achieved. Those data emphasize the applicability of LbL carriers for stem cell research. Additionally, the potential use of LbL carriers as a promising delivery tool for iPSCs was contrasted to viral particles and liposomes. The identified differences among those delivery tools have substantiated our major conclusion that LbL carrier uptake rate is influenced by characteristic features of the iPSC colonies (most notably colony size) in addition to their surface charges.
Keywords: LbL carrier; carrier uptake; iPSC; iPSC colony morphology; liposome; virus particle.