Microfluidic Generation of Thin-Shelled Polyethylene Glycol-Tyramine Microgels for Non-Invasive Delivery of Immunoprotected β-Cells

Nuno Araújo-Gomes*, Barbara Zoetebier-Liszka, Bas van Loo, Malin Becker, Suzanne Nijhuis, Alexandra M. Smink, Bart J. de Haan, Paul de Vos, Marcel Karperien, Jeroen Leijten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Transplantation of microencapsulated pancreatic cells is emerging as a promising therapy to replenish β-cell mass lost from auto-immune nature of type I diabetes mellitus (T1DM). This strategy intends to use micrometer-sized microgels to provide immunoprotection to transplanted cells to avoid chronic application of immunosuppression. Clinical application of encapsulation has remained elusive due to often limited production throughputs and body's immunological reactions to implanted materials. This article presents a high-throughput fabrication of monodisperse, non-immunogenic, non-degradable, immunoprotective, semi-permeable, enzymatically-crosslinkable polyethylene glycol-tyramine (PEG-TA) microgels for β-cell microencapsulation. Monodisperse β-cell laden microgels of ≈120 µm, with a shell thickness of 20 µm are produced using an outside-in crosslinking strategy. Microencapsulated β-cells rapidly self-assemble into islet-sized spheroids. Immunoprotection of the microencapsulated is demonstrated by inability of FITC-IgG antibodies to diffuse into cell-laden microgels and NK-cell inability to kill microencapsulated β-cells. Multiplexed ELISA analysis on live blood immune reactivity confirms limited immunogenicity. Microencapsulated MIN6β1 spheroids remain glucose responsive for 28 days in vitro, and able to restore normoglycemia 5 days post-implantation in diabetic mice without notable amounts of cell death. In short, PEG-TA microgels effectively protect implanted cells from the host's immune system while being viable and functional, validating this strategy for the treatment of T1DM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2301552
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced healthcare materials
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 7 Aug 2023


  • islet
  • microencapsulation
  • microfluidics
  • microgels
  • translational medicines
  • type I diabetes mellitus
  • β-cell delivery
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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