Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 517–527 | Cite as

Magnetic alginate microspheres: system for the position controlled delivery of nerve growth factor

  • Gianni Ciofani
  • Vittoria Raffa
  • Arianna Menciassi
  • Alfred Cuschieri
  • Silvestro Micera


The use of polymeric carriers containing dispersed magnetic nanocrystalline particles for targeted delivery of drugs in clinical practice has attracted the interest of the scientific community. In this paper a system comprised of alginate microparticles with a core of magnetite and carrying nerve growth factor (NGF) is described. The magnetic properties of these microspheres, typical of superparamagnetic materials, allow precise and controlled delivery to the intended tissue environment. Experiments carried out on PC12 cells with magnetic alginate microspheres loaded with NGF have confirmed the induction of cell differentiation which is strongly dependent on the distance from the microsphere cluster. In addition, finite element modelling (FEM) of the release profile from the microspheres in culture, indicated the possibility of creating defined and predictable NGF gradients from the loaded microspheres. These observations on the carriage and release of growth factors by the proposed microparticles open new therapeutic options for both neuronal regeneration and of the development of effective neuronal interfaces.


Targeted drug delivery NGF Alginate Magnetic microparticles Neuronal outgrowth 



The work described in this paper was partially supported by the IIT (Italian Institute of Technology) Network and the NINIVE (Non Invasive Nanotransducer for In Vivo gene thErapy, STRP 033378) project, co-financed by the 6FP of the European Commission.

Authors gratefully thank Mr. Carlo Filippeschi for his kind support using the FIB microscope.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianni Ciofani
    • 1
    • 4
  • Vittoria Raffa
    • 1
  • Arianna Menciassi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alfred Cuschieri
    • 1
  • Silvestro Micera
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Italian Institute of Technology (IIT)GenovaItaly
  3. 3.Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.CRIM & ARTS LabScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPontederaItaly

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