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Biomaterials. 1997 May;18(10):707-13.

Biocompatibility of mannuronic acid-rich alginates.

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Lehrstuhl für Biotechnologie, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany.


Highly purified algin preparations free of adverse contaminants with endotoxins and other mitogens recently became available by a new purification process (Klöck et al., Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 1994, 40, 638-643). An advantage of this purification protocol is that it can be applied to alginates with various ratios of mannuronic acid to guluronic acid. High mannuronic acid alginate capsules are of particular practical interest for cell transplantation and for biohybrid organs, because mannuronate-rich alginates are usually less viscous, allowing one to make gels with a higher alginate content. This will increase their stability and reduce the diffusion permeability and could therefore protect immobilized cells more efficiently against the host immune system. Here we report the biocompatibility of purified, mannuronic acid-rich alginate (68% mannuronate residues) in a series of in vitro, as well as in vivo, assays. In contrast to raw alginate extracts, the purified product showed no mitogenic activity towards murine lymphocytes in vitro. Its endotoxin content was reduced to the level of the solvent. Animal studies with these new, purified algin formulations revealed the absence of a mitogen-induced foreign body reaction, even when the purified material (after cross-linking with Ba2+ ions) is implanted into animal models with elevated macrophage activity (diabetes-prone BB/OK rat). Thus, alginate capsules with high mannuronic acid content become available for applications such as implantation. In addition to the utilization as implantable cell reactors in therapy and biotechnology, these purified algins have broad application potential as ocular fillings, tissue replacements, microencapsulated growth factors and/or interleukins or slow-release dosage forms of antibodies, surface coatings of sensors and other invasive medical devices, and in encapsulation of genetically engineered cells for gene therapy.

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