Sulfated Alginate Hydrogels Prolong the Therapeutic Potential of MSC Spheroids by Sequestering the Secretome

Marissa Gionet-Gonzales, Alena Casella, Daphne Diloretto, Clara Ginnell, Katherine H. Griffin, Anne Bigot, J. Kent Leach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cell-based approaches to tissue repair suffer from rapid cell death upon implantation, limiting the window for therapeutic intervention. Despite robust lineage-specific differentiation potential in vitro, the function of transplanted mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in vivo is largely attributed to their potent secretome comprising a variety of growth factors (GFs). Furthermore, GF secretion is markedly increased when MSCs are formed into spheroids. Native GFs are sequestered within the extracellular matrix (ECM) via sulfated glycosaminoglycans, increasing the potency of GF signaling compared to their unbound form. To address the critical need to prolong the efficacy of transplanted cells, alginate hydrogels are modified with sulfate groups to sequester endogenous heparin-binding GFs secreted by MSC spheroids. The influence of crosslinking method and alginate modification is assessed on mechanical properties, degradation rate, and degree of sulfate modification. Sulfated alginate hydrogels sequester a mixture of MSC-secreted endogenous biomolecules, thereby prolonging the therapeutic effect of MSC spheroids for tissue regeneration. GFs are sequestered for longer durations within sulfated hydrogels and retain their bioactivity to regulate endothelial cell tubulogenesis and myoblast infiltration. This platform has the potential to prolong the therapeutic benefit of the MSC secretome and serve as a valuable tool for investigating GF sequestration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • heparin-binding
  • mesenchymal stromal cells
  • secretome
  • spheroids
  • sulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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