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Biomaterials. 1996 May;17(10):1031-40.

Alginate polycation microcapsules. I. Interaction between alginate and polycation.

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Department of Biotechnology, Norwegian Institute of Technology, University of Trondheim, Norway.


The interactions between alginate and polycations have been studied by using different labelling techniques. Binding of poly-L-lysine (PLL) to alginate in the gel state is mainly governed by the amount of dissociable negative charges on the bead surface. PLL was found to bind more rapidly to gel beads made from alginate with a high content of mannuronic acid. The binding was enhanced by increasing the alginate concentration on the surface by making inhomogeneous beads. When the capsules were stored in the presence of cations with high affinity for alginate (Ca2+, Sr2+), PLL was washed off. Less PLL is bound to strontium alginate than to calcium alginate beads. Two mechanisms appear to be responsible for the binding of sodium alginate to alginate PLL capsules (coating): (i) an electrostatic interaction between the soluble coating material and excess positive charges on PLL on the surface; (ii) the formation of a calcium alginate gel on the surface owing to leaching of calcium ions from the core. The stability and efficiency of the coating as a function of molecular size and sequential structure of the coating polymer have also been investigated.

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