Thermoreversible gels for the encapsulation of macrophages: evaluation of polymer type on rheology and cytocompatibility

E. Zeqiri, M. A. da Silva, S. R. Aspinall, E. Hoffman, V. Hutter, M. T. Cook

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Thermoresponsive polymers have become a highly sought-after “smart material” due to their ability to modify their physical characteristics due to temperature changes. This research aimed to determine the biocompatibility of specific thermoreversible gels for immunocompetent cell models containing ImmuPHAGETM, human alveolar macrophage-like cells. Four polymers were selected based on their transition temperatures, including three commercially available pharmaceutical excipients, namely poloxamer 407, soluplus, and methylcellulose. The fourth system, poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide)-b-poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide), was synthesised in-house. Initially, the phase behaviour of these four polymers was evaluated visually by warming the polymer solutions and determining the state of the solution by vial inversion. Subsequently, a combination of rheological measurements was employed to compare the properties of these thermoreversible gels in culture media. The physical characterisation was followed by conducting cytocompatibility tests using human alveolar macrophages to assess their suitability as a scaffold for cell culture in vitro and to determine the cell response to different culturing environments. The study concluded that methylcellulose is the most promising and cost-effective material worth further exploration as a responsive matrix for immune cell encapsulation. Keywords: Thermoresponsive, Thermogelling, Alveolar macrophages, Foamy macrophages, immunocompetent in vitro models.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalRSC Applied Polymers
Early online date2 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2023


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