Cell-laden microfluidic microgels for tissue regeneration
Regeneration of diseased tissue is one of the foremost concerns for millions of patients who suffer from tissue damage each year. Local delivery of cell-laden hydrogels offers an attractive approach for tissue repair. However, due to the typical macroscopic size of these cell constructs, the encapsulated cells often suffer from poor nutrient exchange. These issues can be mitigated by incorporating cells into microscopic hydrogels, or microgels, whose large surface-to-volume ratio promotes efficient mass transport and enhanced cell–matrix interactions. Using microfluidic technology, monodisperse cell-laden microgels with tunable sizes can be generated in a high-throughput manner, making them useful building blocks that can be assembled into tissue constructs with spatially controlled physicochemical properties. In this review, we examine microfluidics-generated cell-laden microgels for tissue regeneration applications. We provide a brief overview of the common biomaterials, gelation mechanisms, and microfluidic device designs that are used to generate these microgels, and summarize the most recent works on how they are applied to tissue regeneration. Finally, we discuss future applications of microfluidic cell-laden microgels as well as existing challenges that should be resolved to stimulate their clinical application.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Lab on a Chip Recent Review Articles