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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2010 Aug;94(2):466-75. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.32710.

Microsphere size effects on embryoid body incorporation and embryonic stem cell differentiation.

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The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Differentiation of pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vitro via multicellular spheroids called embryoid bodies (EBs) is commonly performed to model aspects of early mammalian development and initiate differentiation of cells for regenerative medicine technologies. However, the three-dimensional nature of EBs poses unique challenges for directed ESC differentiation, including limited diffusion into EBs of morphogenic molecules capable of specifying cell fate. Degradable polymer microspheres incorporated within EBs can present morphogenic molecules to ESCs in a spatiotemporally controlled manner to more efficiently direct differentiation. In this study, the effect of microsphere size on incorporation into EBs and ESC differentiation in response to microsphere- mediated morphogen delivery were assessed. PLGA microspheres with mean diameters of 1, 3, or 11 microm were fabricated and mixed with ESCs during EB formation. Smaller microspheres were incorporated more efficiently throughout EBs than larger microspheres, and regardless of size, retained for at least 10 days of differentiation. Retinoic acid release from incorporated microspheres induced EB cavitation in a size-dependent manner, with smaller microspheres triggering accelerated and more complete cavitation than larger particles. These results demonstrate that engineering the size of microsphere delivery vehicles incorporated within stem cell environments can be used to modulate the course of differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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