Porous PolyHIPE microspheres for protein delivery from an injectable bone graft

Michael Whitely, Gabriel Rodriguez-Rivera, Christina Waldron, S. Mohiuddin, S. Cereceres, Nicholas Sears, Nicholas Ray, Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Delivery of osteoinductive factors such as bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) has emerged as a prominent strategy to improve regeneration in bone grafting procedures. However, it remains challenging to identify a carrier that provides the requisite loading efficiency and release kinetics without compromising the mechanical properties of the bone graft. Previously, we reported on porous, polymerized high internal phase emulsion (polyHIPE) microspheres fabricated using controlled fluidics. Uniquely, this solvent-free method provides advantages over current microsphere fabrication strategies including in-line loading of growth factors to improve loading efficiency. In the current study, we utilized this platform to fabricate protein-loaded microspheres and investigated the effect of particle size (∼400 vs ∼800 μm) and pore size (∼15 vs 30 μm) on release profiles. Although there was no significant effect of these variables on the substantial burst release profile of the microspheres, the incorporation of the protein-loaded microspheres within the injectable polyHIPE resulted in a sustained release of protein from the bulk scaffold over a two-week period with minimal burst release. Bioactivity retention of encapsulated BMP-2 was confirmed first using a genetically-modified osteoblast reporter cell line. A functional assay with human mesenchymal stem cells established that the BMP-2 release from microspheres induced osteogenic differentiation. Finally, microsphere incorporation had minimal effect on the cure and compressive properties of an injectable polyHIPE bone graft. Overall, this work demonstrates that these microsphere-polyHIPE composites have strong potential to enhance bone regeneration through controlled release of BMP-2 and other growth factors. Statement of significance: This manuscript describes a method for solvent-free fabrication of porous microspheres from high internal phase emulsions using a controlled fluids setup. The principles of emulsion templating and fluid dynamics provide exceptional control of particle size and pore architecture. In addition to the advantage of solvent-free fabrication, this method provides in-line loading of protein directly into the pores of the microspheres with high loading efficiencies. The incorporation of the protein-loaded microspheres within an injectable polyHIPE scaffold resulted in a sustained release of protein over a two-week period with minimal burst release. Retention of BMP-2 bioactivity and incorporation of microspheres with minimal effect on scaffold compressive properties highlights the potential of these new bone grafts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-179
Number of pages11
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • Bmp-2
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Polyhipe microspheres
  • Protein release

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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