PLGA/chitosan–heparin composite microparticles prepared with microfluidics for the construction of hMSC aggregates†
Incorporating poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) microparticles into human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) aggregates has shown promising application prospects. However, the acidic degradation products and burst release of PLGA microparticles still need to be ameliorated. In this study, the PLGA/chitosan–heparin (P/C–h) composite microparticles were successfully fabricated by integrating the double emulsion and microfluidic technology through the precise manipulation of the emulsion composition and flow rate of the two-phase in a flow-focusing chip. The P/C–h microparticles were highly monodispersed with a diameter of 23.45 ± 0.25 μm and shell–core structure of the PLGA encapsulated C–h complex, which were suitable for the fabrication of hMSC aggregates. When the mass ratio of PLGA to the C–h complex was optimized to 2 : 1, the pH of the leach liquor of P/C–h microparticles remained neutral. Compared with those of PLGA microparticles, the cytotoxicity and the initial burst release (loaded FGF-2 and VEGF) were both significantly reduced in P/C–h microparticles. Furthermore, the survival, stemness, as well as secretion and migration abilities of cells in hMSC aggregates incorporating P/C–h microparticles were also enhanced. In summary, the P/C–h composite microparticles prepared by the droplet microfluidic technique support the optimal biological and functional profile of the hMSC aggregates, which may facilitate the clinical applications of MSC-based therapy.