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ACS Cent Sci. 2017 Aug 23;3(8):875-885. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00213. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

A Nano-In-Micro System for Enhanced Stem Cell Therapy of Ischemic Diseases.

Wang H1,1,1, Agarwal P1,1, Xiao Y1,1,2, Peng H1,2, Zhao S1,1, Liu X1,1, Zhou S2, Li J1, Liu Z1,1, He X1,1,1.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Department of Veterinary Biosciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, United States.
Department of Burns and Plastic Surgery, The Third Xiangya Hospital and Department of Cardiology, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan 410013, P.R. China.


Stem cell therapy holds great potential for treating ischemic diseases. However, contemporary methods for local stem cell delivery suffer from poor cell survival/retention after injection. We developed a unique multiscale delivery system by encapsulating therapeutic agent-laden nanoparticles in alginate hydrogel microcapsules and further coentrapping the nano-in-micro capsules with stem cells in collagen hydrogel. The multiscale system exhibits significantly higher mechanical strength and stability than pure collagen hydrogel. Moreover, unlike nanoparticles, the nano-in-micro capsules do not move with surrounding body fluid and are not taken up by the cells. This allows a sustained and localized release of extracellular epidermal growth factor (EGF), a substance that could significantly enhance the proliferation of mesenchymal stem cells while maintaining their multilineage differentiation potential via binding with its receptors on the stem cell surface. As a result, the multiscale system significantly improves the stem cell survival at 8 days after implantation to ∼70% from ∼4-7% for the conventional system with nanoparticle-encapsulated EGF or free EGF in collagen hydrogel. After injecting into the ischemic limbs of mice, stem cells in the multiscale system facilitate tissue regeneration to effectively restore ∼100% blood perfusion in 4 weeks without evident side effects.

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