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Shell engineering in soft alginate-based capsules for culturing liver spheroids

Peng, X.; Janićijević, Ž.; Lemm, S.; Laube, M.; Pietzsch, J.; Bachmann, M.; Baraban, L.

We demonstrate the fluidics-based low-cost methodology to reproducibly generate the alginate and alginate-chitosan microcapsules and apply it to grow human hepatoma (HepG2) spheroids of different dimensions and geometries. Focusing specifically on the composition and thickness of the hydrogel shell, permeability of the microcapsules was selectively tuned. The diffusion of the selected benchmark molecules through the shell has been systematically investigated using both, experiments and simulations, which is essential to ensure efficient mass transfer and/or filtering of the biochemical species. Depending on available space, phenotypically different 3D cell assemblies have been observed inside the capsules, varying in the tightness of cell aggregations and their shapes. Metabolic activity of spheroids in microcapsules was confirmed by tracking the turnover of testosterone to androstenedione with chromatography studies in a metabolic assay. Because of the facile tuning of the shell thickness and permeability, we believe that our system is suitable for studying the formation of cancer spheroids and their functional interaction with the surrounding microenvironment.

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Publ.-Id: 35494