Microfluidic encapsulation of cells in alginate particles via an improved internal gelation approach
An improved internal gelation approach is developed to encapsulate single mammalian cells in monodisperse alginate microbeads as small as 26 mu m in diameter and at rates of up to 1 kHz with high cell viability. The cell damage resulting from contact with calcium carbonate nanoparticles as gelation reagents is eliminated by employing a co-flow microfluidic device, and the cell exposure to low pH is minimized by a chemically balanced off-chip gelation step. These modifications significantly improve the viability of cells encapsulated in gelled alginate particles. Two different mammalian cell types are encapsulated with viability of over 84 %. The cells are functional and continue to grow inside the microparticles.