Membrane emulsification for the production of uniform poly-N-isopropylacrylamide-coated alginate particles using internal gelation

Mariana Petronela Hanga, Richard G. Holdich

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Alginate particles, crosslinked by calcium ions, have a number of potential biopharmaceutical industry applications due to the biocompatibility of the materials used and formed. One such use is as microcarriers for cell attachment,growth and then detachment without the use of proteolytic enzymes. A straightforward and reproducible method for producing uniform calcium alginate particles with controllable median diameters which employs membrane emulsification and internal gelation (solid particles contained in the dispersed phase) is demonstrated, as well as functionalisation of the resulting beads with amine terminated poly N-isopropylacrylamide (pNIPAM) to form temperature responsive particles, by taking advantage of the electrostatic interaction between the carboxyl groups of the alginate and amino groups of the modified pNIPAM. Cell attachment, growth and detachment capabilities of these core–shell structures were assessed and successfully demonstrated by using phase contrast microscopy and fluorescent staining with calcein-AM and ethidium homodimer-1.The formulation used for the alginate particles avoided non-GRAS chemicals by only using food grade and pharmaceutical grade reagents. The median particle size was controllable within the range between 55 m and 690 m and the size distributions produced were very narrow: ‘span’ values as low as 0.2. When using a membrane pore sizeof 20 m no membrane blockage by the suspended calcium carbonate necessary for internal gelation of the alginate particles was observed. Membrane pore openings with diameters of 5 and 10 m were also tested, but blocked with the 2.3 m median diameter calcium carbonate solids.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1664-1673
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Issue number9
Early online date16 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2013, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • pNIPAM
  • microcarriers
  • microbeads
  • alginate
  • cell release


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