Fabrication of innovative silk/alginate microcarriers for mesenchymal stem cell delivery and tissue regeneration

Sara Perteghella, Elisa Martella, Laura De Girolamo, Carlotta Perucca Orfei, Michela Pierini, Valentina Fumagalli, Domenica Valeria Pintacuda, Theodora Chlapanidas, Marco Viganò, Silvio Faragò, Maria Luisa Torre, Enrico Lucarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to exploit silk fibroin’s properties to develop innovative composite microcarriers for mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) adhesion and proliferation. Alginate microcarriers were prepared, added to silk fibroin solution, and then treated with ethanol to induce silk conformational transition. Microcarriers were characterized for size distribution, coating stability and homogeneity. Finally, in vitro cytocompatibility and suitability as delivery systems for MSCs were investigated. Results indicated that our manufacturing process is consistent and reproducible: silk/alginate microcarriers were stable, with spherical geometry, about 400 μm in average diameter, and fibroin homogeneously coated the surface. MSCs were able to adhere rapidly onto the microcarrier surface and to cover the surface of the microcarrier within three days of culture, moreover, on this innovative 3D culture system, stem cells preserved their metabolic activity and their multi-lineage differentiation potential. In conclusion, silk/alginate microcarriers represent a suitable support for MSCs culture and expansion. Since it is able to preserve MSCs multipotency, the developed 3D system can be intended for cell delivery, for advanced therapy and regenerative medicine applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1829
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Alginate
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Microcarriers
  • Musculoskeletal tissues
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Silk fibroin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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