Calcium pre-conditioning substitution enhances viability and glucose sensitivity of pancreatic beta-cells encapsulated using polyelectrolyte multilayer coating method

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Type I diabetics are dependent on daily insulin injections. A therapy capable of immunoisolating pancreatic beta-cells and providing normoglycaemia is an alternative since it would avoid the late complications associated with insulin use. Here, 3D-concave agarose micro-wells were used to culture robust pancreatic MIN-6 cell spheroids within 24 hours that were shown to exhibit cell-cell contact and uniform size (201 ± 2 μm). A polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) approach using alginate and poly-l-lysine was employed to coat cell spheroids. In comparison to conventional PEM, use of a novel Ca2+ pre-coating step enhanced beta-cells viability (89 ± 6%) and metabolic activity since it reduced the toxic effect of the cationic polymer. Pre-coating was achieved by treating MIN-6 spheroids with calcium chloride, which enabled the adhesion of anionic polymer to the cells surface. Pre-coated cells coated with four bilayers of polymers were successfully immunoisolated from FITC-mouse antibody and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Novel PEM coated cells were shown to secret significantly (P < 0.05) different amounts of insulin in response to changes in glucose concentration (2 vs. 20 mM). This work presents a 3D culture model and novel PEM coating procedure that enhances viability, maintains functionality and immunoisolates beta-cells, which is a promising step towards an alternative therapy to insulin.


Original languageEnglish
Article number43171
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017


  • Biomaterials – cells, Cell delivery, Tissue engineering