Design of an Adhesive Film-Based Microfluidic Device for Alginate Hydrogel-Based Cell Encapsulation

  • Kevin Enck
  • Shiny Priya Rajan
  • Julio Aleman
  • Simone Castagno
  • Emily Long
  • Fatma Khalil
  • Adam R. Hall
  • Emmanuel C. OparaEmail author
Bioengineering and Enabling Technologies


To support the increasing translational use of transplanted cells, there is a need for high-throughput cell encapsulation technologies. Microfluidics is a particularly promising candidate technology to address this need, but conventional polydimethylsiloxane devices have encountered challenges that have limited their utility, including clogging, leaking, material swelling, high cost, and limited scalability. Here, we use a rapid prototyping approach incorporating patterned adhesive thin films to develop a reusable microfluidic device that can produce alginate hydrogel microbeads with high-throughput potential for microencapsulation applications. We show that beads formed in our device have high sphericity and monodispersity. We use the system to demonstrate effective cell encapsulation of mesenchymal stem cells and show that they can be maintained in culture for at least 28 days with no measurable reduction in viability. Our approach is highly scalable and will support diverse translational applications of microencapsulated cells.


Alginate Microencapsulation Stem cell Cell transplantation 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Michael Hunckler, Michael LeCompte, and Paige Brabant for their technical help on this project. K.E. acknowledges support from the NIH T32 Training Program entitled Studies in Translational Regenerative Medicine (EB014836-01A1).

Supplementary material

10439_2020_2453_MOESM1_ESM.docx (640 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 639 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Enck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shiny Priya Rajan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julio Aleman
    • 1
  • Simone Castagno
    • 3
  • Emily Long
    • 4
  • Fatma Khalil
    • 1
  • Adam R. Hall
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emmanuel C. Opara
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative MedicineWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and SciencesWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Wake Forest School of MedicineMedical CenterWinston-SalemUSA

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