Microfluidic Encapsulation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Articular Cartilage Tissue Regeneration

Fanyi Li, Vinh X. Truong, Helmut Thissen, Jessica E. Frith, John S. Forsythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cell injections for the treatment of articular cartilage damage are a promising approach to achieve tissue regeneration. However, this method is encumbered by high cell apoptosis rates, low retention in the cartilage lesion, and inefficient chondrogenesis. Here, we have used a facile, very low cost-based microfluidic technique to create visible light-cured microgels composed of gelatin norbornene (GelNB) and a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) cross-linker. In addition, we have demonstrated that the process enables the rapid in situ microencapsulation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) under biocompatible microfluidic-processing conditions for long-term maintenance. The hBMSCs exhibited an unusually high degree of chondrogenesis in the GelNB microgels with chondro-inductive media, specifically toward the hyaline cartilage structure, with significant upregulation in type II collagen expression compared to the bulk hydrogel and “gold standard” pellet culture. Overall, we have demonstrated that these protein-based microgels can be engineered as promising therapeutic candidates for articular cartilage regeneration, with additional potential to be used in a variety of other applications in regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8589-8601
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


  • cartilage tissue engineering
  • gelatin hydrogel
  • microfluidics
  • microgels
  • stem cells


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