Large-scale production of stem cells utilizing microcarriers: A biomaterials engineering perspective from academic research to commercialized products

Biomaterials. 2018 Oct;181:333-346. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.07.016. Epub 2018 Jul 11.


Human stem cells, including pluripotent, embryonic and mesenchymal, stem cells play pivotal roles in cell-based therapies. Over the past decades, various methods for expansion and differentiation of stem cells have been developed to satisfy the burgeoning clinical demands. One of the most widely endorsed technologies for producing large cell quantities is using microcarriers (MCs) in bioreactor culture systems. In this review, we focus on microcarriers properties that can manipulate the expansion and fate of stem cells. Here, we provide an overview of commercially available MCs and focus on novel stimulus responsive MCs controlled by temperature, pH and field changes. Different features of MCs including composition, surface coating, morphology, geometry/size, surface functionalization, charge and mechanical properties, and their cellular effects are also highlighted. We then conclude with current challenges and outlook on this promising technology.

Keywords: Biomaterials; Microcarries; Microtechnology; Polymers; Stem cell; Tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Temperature
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polymers